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Is Vietnam’s position as second largest rice exporter threatened?

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam has been warned that it would be outstripped by Thailand and Cambodia in rice exports if it cannot change the current production and export policies.
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam has been warned that it would be outstripped by Thailand and Cambodia in rice exports if it cannot change the current production and export policies.


The Vietnamese Counsellor in China has warned about the so called ‘Cambodia phenomenon’. 

The country has just begun exporting rice to China recently, but it has gained very high export growth rate. Cambodia exported 116,000 tons of rice to the market in 2015, an increase of 138 percent compared to 2014.

Some other experts have also said that Cambodia has become a strong rival of Vietnam m 

Meanwhile, the threat from Thailand seems to be worse as the country plans to apply a new rice strategy, while it considers diverting Loei, a branch of Mekong River, to bring water to agricultural areas in the country’s northeastern part.

Vietnam has been warned that it would be outstripped by Thailand and Cambodia in rice exports if it cannot change the current production and export policies.
Commenting about the ‘Cambodia phenomenon’, Vo Tong Xuan, a leading rice expert, said there was no need to be too worried because Cambodia still cannot compete with Vietnam in low-cost and medium-class products.

However, he admitted that Cambodia has advantages over Vietnam in high-quality rice production. The problem is that Vietnamese farmers do not grow these high-quality varieties because of the low yield, just 2-3 tons per hectare. Vietnamese prefer growing high-yield, 6-7 tons per hectare, varieties.

Even when Vietnam grows Jasmine with the yield of 5 ton per hectares, it still cannot compete with Thailand and Cambodia in the high-quality market segment.

Xuan went on to say that China will still need Vietnam’s rice, because it needs low-cost rice for the majority of people, though more and more Chinese are getting richer and want high-quality products. 

The difference between Vietnam and high-quality rice growers like Thailand and Cambodia is that Vietnam only wants high yield rice, while Thailand and Cambodia focus on growing high quality rice.

The rice expert believes that Vietnam should not try to compete with Thailand and Cambodia in growing high-quality rice because it is more profitable to till high yield rice.

“I am sure that no one is better than Vietnamese in tilling high-yield rice,” he said.

“Thailand is considering diverting Mekong River’s stream and thinks it would help its poor farmers in the northeast. However, it will not help,” he said.

However, Xuan, while affirming that Vietnam will not be affected by the Thai moves, believes that Vietnam should reduce rice cultivation in saline areas and only have one crop in rainy season. After the crop, farmers can farm shrimp instead of tilling rice.

“Mekong Delta’s farmers should not try to grow rice at any cost, especially in the context of climate change and saltwater intrusion,” he said.

Dat Viet


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