The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has come up with an ecological method that could increase rice yields in the Mekong Delta - cultivating ornametnal flowers alongside paddy fields.
A trial project earlier launched in five Mekong Delta localities - Can Tho City and the provinces of Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre and An Giang - has shown outstanding results, the government said in a statement on its website on July 9.
In Tien Giang's Cai Lay District, during the winter-spring season in 2009-2010, 20,000 flower plants were planted on bunds surrounding 35 hectares of rice fields.
As a result, farmers saved VND500,000 per hectare on pesticides and spraying work as there were less pests to contend with.
"Rice fields with flower bunds lures and keeps bee parasitoids of rice pests to collect nectar and pollen from flowers. They also lay eggs on rice worms. The bee parasitoids protect the rice from invading pests like hoppers," said Professor Nguyen Van Huynh of the Can Tho University.
According to Ho Van Chien, director of the Southern Plant Protection Agency, farmers don't have to spray their crop with insecticides unnecessarily with the new method. Rice fields with flower bunds are good signs for developing sustainable agriculture, he said.
Plants recommended under the model include ornamental flowers like garden cosmos, chrysanthemum and sunflower as well as other crops like green peas and okra.