Vietnam rice exports set to face another tough year


Despite facing difficulties, Vietnam will strive to achieve rice exports of more than 5 million tons (MT)  this year, the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has said.

Speaking at a meeting to review the VFA’s performance last year in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, its secretary, Hu`ynh Minh Huê, said last year only 4.89 MT were exported for $2.12 billion, a 25.5-percent fall in volume and a 20.57-percent decline in value.

There was excessive supply in the global market last year, and there has been a recent trend of major importing countries increasing domestic production to reduce imports, he said.

Vietnam’s rice exports are likely to face another difficult year, as supply outstrips demand and global competition intensifies, he said.

He quoted the US Department of Agriculture as saying global rice output in 2016/2017 is estimated to increase by 1.6 percent from last year to 480 MT due to an expansion in the area under rice in many countries, including Australia, Myanmar, Brazil, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Pakistan, Thailand and the US, he said.

Global exports are expected to rise by 1 MT, or 2.6 percent, to 40.6 MT, he said.

Stockpiles have been increasing for the last three years and are expected to reach the highest levels since 2001/2002 crop, he said.

Hu`ynh Thê Năng, VFA chairman, said despite the hurdles, rice businesses would strive to export higher volumes than last year to ensure farmers can sell off as much of their outputs as possible.

In the long term the domestic rice sector targets exports of high-value rice to affluent markets, he said.

He said the Plant Protection Department and other relevant agencies should take measures to improve the hygiene and food safety of Vietnamese rice to enable more exports to choosy markets.

The association said rice exporters should meet hygiene and food-safety standards and strengthen linkages with farmers to ensure a steady source of the grain to meet market demand.

Hue called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to build an international standard laboratory in Can Tho to help exporters check their rice quality, especially look for plant protection chemical residues, instead of sending to other countries for analysis as is done now.

Năng said authorities in rice-growing localities need to do more to instruct farmers in producing rice meeting safety standards, encourage them to use more certified rice seedlings, and improve technical and financial support systems.

Do Hà Nam, chairman and general director of Intimex Group Joint Stock Co.—one of the country’s 10 largest rice exporters—said while exports of other kinds were down, exports of Japonica and sticky rice went up by 136.95 percent and 96.59 percent.

“But farmers have [since] rushed to grow more sticky rice, which [poses a] risk.” He said the government should work with China to facilitate exports of Vietnamese rice to that country.

“We face severe competition in terms of price from Pakistan and India. There may be difficulties, but if we choose to invest in varieties like fragrant rice and sticky rice, there will be opportunities.”

Lê Thanh Tùng of the Crop Production Department said Vietnam has the potential to boost exports of sticky, fragrant, Japonica and high-quality rice varieties.


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