VietNamNet Bridge – The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has set high goals when drafting the rice-production restructuring strategy, which Vietnamese farmers have found “unfeasible” and “unrealistic”.  


MARD believes that the country should strive to export white long-grain rice for an average $600 a ton by 2020 and fragrant specialty rice for $800 per ton.

Experts said the plan was impractical because the rice export price set for 2020 would be nearly double the current export price, about $430-440 per ton.

Nguyen Dinh Bich, a renowned rice expert, said $600-800 per ton was unreachable, especially when international organizations predict that global rice prices will not increase and even fall from now to 2020.

MARD has also decided that by 2020 one hectare of rice cultivation in Vietnam would need revenue of VND100-120 million.

An analyst has pointed out inconsistencies in the MARD plan. The agency plans to reduce the rice-growing area in the country from 7.9 million hectares to 7 million hectares. However, if high revenue were actually attainable, no farmer would want to give up rice cultivation and would expand their farming areas.

The analyst went on to say that MARD’s planning had discouraged farmers because they had not found solutions to improve production and, in particular, farmers’ incomes.

Bich said that farmers should have a higher proportion of profits in the rice production chain, because this was the key to sustainable development.

He believes that it is necessary to re-organize the current supply chain so that exporters and farmers can closely cooperate to optimize profits.

If so, privately owned small companies, which have been acting as intermediaries by collecting rice from farmers to sell to export companies, would no longer play an important role in the supply chain.

However, rice export companies do not agree. Lam Anh Tuan, director of Thinh Phat Company in Ben Tre Province, noted that the existence of private merchants, serving as a link between farmers and exporters, was necessary, because of small-scale production, the main characteristic of Vietnamese agriculture.

Tuan knows that many export companies have gained success when cooperating with farmers to export fragrant rice. However, he believes that, in this case, cooperation can be maintained because both sides can benefit from it.

“Exporters need to join hands with farmers to ensure the high quality of fragrant rice,” he explained. “However, it will be unreasonable to ask us to be responsible for outlets for low-quality rice like IR 50404.”

Dr. Vo Tong Xuan, the leading rice expert in Vietnam, said the strategy drafted by MARD does not focus on settling the biggest problems – the role of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) and state-owned food corporations, and the quality of Vietnamese rice.


Thanh Mai