CAN THO — With the winter-spring rice crop being harvested in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, high-grade varieties of paddy are much in demand while low-quality IR 50404 does not have many buyers.
|Workers are transporting rice in Cai Be Town, Tien Giang Province. — VNS/VNA Photo Thanh Vu
Undried long-grained, fragrant paddy is being bought for VND5,000-7,200 (US$0.24-0.35) per kilogramme while IR 50404 is fetching VND4,000-4,200, though farmers are unhappy as they cannot sell much of the latter after having a bumper crop.
Nguyen Van Be, a farmer in An Giang Province's An Phu District, said he had harvested seven to eight tonnes of IR 50404 per ha from his three ha.
But he could not find buyers even after lowering the price.
Be said buyers were scrambling for high-quality varieties like jasmine and VD 20 instead.
As a result, paddy was heaped on roads along fields in many communes in Long An and Tien Giang provinces.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, more than half of the 1.6 million ha of winter-spring rice has been harvested with an average yield of 6.5-7.5 tonnes.
Although the Cultivation Department had instructed farmers to plant IR 50404 on less than 20 per cent of the area under the crop, it turned out that they grew it on more than 50 per cent of the area in the delta, and even 70 per cent in some places.
Pham Van Bay, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association, said despite the high prices, demand for fragant rice had exceeded supply.
Traders and exporters are looking to buy jasmine and fragrant rice to process into 5 per cent broken rice for export to Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Middle East.
Pham Van Du, deputy chief of the Cultivation Department, said farmers should plant low-quality rice on just 15 to 20 per cent of the area, and high-quality and fragrant varieties on the rest.
The department has been creating new varieties with similar characteristics as IR 50404 but with higher quality to replace it.
Dr Le Van Banh, head of the Mekong Rice Research Institute, said it took time to introduce and popularise such new varieties in the delta. — VNS