Vietnam mulls future plans: rice or fruit exports?

16.09.2016

Experts have called on Vietnamese leaders to rethink whether Vietnam should become a big rice exporter or fruit export power.

The newly released report by the General Department of Customs (GDC) shows that, for the first time, Vietnam saw export turnover of fruit exceeding rice export turnover in the first seven months of the year.

The report says that Vietnam earned $1.35 billion from fruit exports, but had $1.32 billion only from rice exports.

The figure, in the eyes of analysts, could be a shock to Vietnamese, who have been proud of being one of the biggest rice exporters in the world.

To protect the title of the world’s biggest rice exporter, Vietnam has made heavy investment in the rice cultivation area, labor force and investment capital, far exceeding investment in fruit production.

Fruit production, a newly emerging field in the last few years, has quickly outstripped rice production, which has been receiving preferences for a long time.

The newly released report by the General Department of Customs (GDC) shows that, for the first time, Vietnam saw export turnover of fruit exceeding rice export turnover in the first seven months of the year.
An analyst commented that in principle, no one would invest more in the production field which brings less profit. He said that it was now the right time for Vietnam to ‘face facts’ and realize the ‘misfortune of Vietnam’s wet rice’.

Nguyen Quoc Vong, an agriculture expert, said on Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon that the superiority of fruit over rice export is foreseeable. The analyst, while noting that the rice export in the first months of the year was unsatisfactory because of the serious drought in the Mekong River Delta and the price decrease in the world market, said that the superiority is inevitable.

The fruit exports have been growing steadily in the last few years. In 2012, the fruit export turnover was $770 million only. Meanwhile, the figure soared to $1.04 billion 2013, to $1.47 billion in 2014 and $2.2 billion in 2015.

Just within four years, from 2012 to 2015, Vietnam’s fruit export value increased by three times. Meanwhile, the rice export value has not increased considerably in recent years, around $2.7-2.8 billion a year.

“Why doesn’t Vietnam think of pushing up the export of fruits instead of rice if the world’s fruit market is larger?” the analyst said.

He cited a report of FAO as saying that in 2010, the world’s rice market was worth $17 billion, while the global fruit market was $97 billion.

If considering the total demand of different kinds fresh fruits & vegetables, and canned, dried & frozen products, the figure was $203 billion in 2014, and would be $320 billion by 2020, according to a Zion Research report.


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