Some major rice producing areas such as the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Can Tho and Dong Thap reaped up to 7.3 tonnes per ha in the freshly-harvested winter-spring crop, equivalent to world leading producers like Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The nation’s rice production output is estimated at 39.9 million tonnes in 2010, with southern provinces producing over 23.5 million tonnes, reported the Cultivation Department.
The Mekong Delta alone makes up almost 91.5 percent of the southern production output, gathering 21.5 million tonnes with an average per-ha yield of 5.47 tonnes.
The figures show Vietnam’s improved rice farming, explaining why Vietnam has entered into the list of world giants in rice exports.
In the past 10 months, the country has already exported 5.66 million tonnes of rice, earning US$2.63 billion. The yearly rice export volume is expected to reach 6.5 million tonnes due to the supply of wheat falling short.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) forecast a “possible skyrocketing” in world rice demand with Indonesia, which failed to reach a deal with Thailand, likely to import an additional 200,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam. Typhoon Megi wreaked havoc in the northern Philippines and is expected to push the country to import between 500,000 and 600,000 tonnes of rice.
“The situation may drive the world rice market into a chaos,” said economists, adding that a surge in demand would make prices escalate.
In October, major rice exporters, including Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India, increased their export prices by at least 30 percent over the previous month.
Despite increased prices, Vietnam does not have much rice in storage for export, said MARD.
The world’s second largest rice exporter has expanded its line-up to parboiled rice, which is expected to increase by 300,000-400,000 tonnes in 2011 to meet rising demand, said the President of the Vietnam Food Association, Truong Thanh Phong.
Parboiled rice preferred by Muslims as it is dry when fully cooked, making it easy to eat by hand. The world demand for the product is estimated at between 3.5 and 4 million tonnes a year. Its price per tonne is often US$70-80 higher than five percent broken rice product, which now plays a key role in Vietnam’s rice exportation.
Vietnam’s parboiled rice quality is higher than that from Pakistan and India, the two biggest parboiled rice exporters of the world, sparking confidence on the “high competitive edge” among domestic rice exporters, Phong said.
VFA members are building three parboiled rice factories in the Mekong Delta, one of which – with a daily capacity of 500 tonnes – is scheduled to start operation later this year, bringing the total number to five.
The VFA has a plan to join hands with the Cultivation Department in marking off a special zone to provide raw material for these factories.
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