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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           21   July  2011

Mekong Delta rice prices rise

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Rice prices have risen in the Mekong Delta despite the Vietnam Food Association's (VFA) recent announcement about a temporary suspension in the purchase of rice for reserves.

Compared to prices that prevailed on July 11 when the VFA said it would stop purchasing rice to maintain 1 million tonnes as reserves, current prices are VND300 to VND500 per kilo higher.

Nguyen Trung Kien, general director of Gentraco Can Tho, a member of the VFA, said the demand for large volumes of rice for export could be one of the reasons for the temporary suspension.

Kien said banks have given priority to loans for exporters to purchase paddy (unhusked rice) from the summer-autumn crop.

Mekong farmers have harvested some 600,000 hectares of the more than 1.6 million hectares under the summer-autumn rice crop.

The yield of the summer-autumn crop in the region is estimated at 5.6 – 5.8 tonnes per ha, bringing the total output to 8.9 million tonnes, 356,000 tonnes higher than the output of last year's summer-autumn rice crop.

Mekong farmers believe that local exporters' purchase of large volumes to fulfill rice export contracts to be shipped in the third quarter is one of the reasons behind the recent hike in prices.

However, the volume of paddy bought by exporters has not been as high as expected. Kien said. Gentraco bought just 900 to 1,000 tonnes of paddy per day, 400 to 500 tonnes lower than its target.

Pham Van Quynh, Director of Can Tho Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most of the 84,000 ha under the summer-autumn rice crop of the city have been reaped, with an average yield of 5.6 tonnes per ha, 200kilo higher than last year's crop.

He said the change in the rice varieties is one of the reasons behind the higher yield of the summer-autumn crop this year.

Quynh also asked the VFA to maintain the effort to purchase 1 million tonnes of paddy for reserve to help minimise the risk of a slump in rice prices during peak harvest season.

Vietnamese exporters have shipped 3.912 million of rice in the first six months of 2011. In the second half of the year, Viet Nam will be able to export some 3.2 million tonnes of rice, bringing total exports of the grain in 2011 to 7 – 7.4 million tonnes.

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