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Vietnam’s rice shipments slightly down in 2009

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Vietnam expects to export about 1.4 million tonnes of rice in May and June, bringing total rice exports in the first six months of this year to 3.3 million tonnes, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), VNS news agency reported.

The association released the figures during a conference held in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Can Tho on Thursday to review operations during the last four months and to draw up plans for rice exports in the next two months.

The figures would be 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes lower than the same period last year, and also fall short of the quantities indicated in contracts Vietnam has signed with foreign partners, VFA said.

It blamed the unsatisfactory figures on the declining demand for rice in the global market due to the devaluation of the euro, rice stockpiles in African countries and low purchasing power.

However, higher export prices for rice from South America and several Asian countries was still an advantage for Vietnamese rice, it said.

During the meeting, businesses warned about the possibility of a rice surplus because the demand for rice in Vietnam's potential export markets, such as Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, had decreased significantly.

They petitioned the Government for swift issuance of a decree on trade and export of rice as a means of creating a strong legal corridor for overcoming current weaknesses and ensuring rice export activities, while also requesting the Vietnam Food Association to keep the rice price unchanged.

The firms also discussed buying rice from farmers after the summer-autumn rice crop is harvested in early June.

The VFA instructed its member-companies to work with local authorities to purchase the grain at a price of at least 4,000 dong (1$=19,000 dong) a kilogramme of paddy to ensure profits for farmers since the Ministry of Finance has not recommended prices.

Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country's rice granary, will complete sowing the summer-autumn crop on 1.6 million ha by next month.

However, some provinces, which began to sow in April, are expected to begin harvest by then.

In the first four months of this year, Vietnam shipped 2.14 million tonnes of rice, a 14 percent year-on-year drop. However, the average price increased by over 20 percent and has brought the country $1.18 billion in export turnover.


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