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Farmers shift to higher-quality rice to meet demand

Update: June, 19/2012 - 10:21

HCM CITY — Many agricultural enterprises and farmers are shifting from growing low-grade rice to high-quality rice to meet the rising demand of both domestic and overseas markets, according to the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA).

Export orders of low-grade rice such as IR 50404 have dropped significantly in recent months, while domestic consumers are demanding more high-quality rice.

Many agricultural companies are using high-quality rice strains under Global Good Agricultural Practices to ensure that rice products have high quality and are clean, according to VFA.

The ITA Rice Joint-Stock Company, for example, recently applied Global GAP to the cultivation of 120 ha of rice.

The project was carried out at four districts in the southern province of Long An. They include Duc Hoa, Duc Hue, Thu Thua and Ben Luc.

Under the project, ITA Rice company provides rice strains, fertiliser, and plant protection medicine, and sends technical workers to help farmers grow rice with the required techniques.

As a result, its rice products are certified by Quality Assurance and Certification Center (QUACERT).

The ADC Company Ltd has also cooperated with farmers in Tien Giang Province's Cai Lay District to farm 103ha of high-quality rice.

Some companies have invested in production of organic rice by applying extremely clean production processes, according to business director Phan Quoc Hung.

In addition to directly farming high-quality rice, the company has also bought rice in this category at a price 15 per cent higher than the market price, Hung said.

Vo Minh Khai, director of the Vien Phu Company, said his company had carried out a project to farm 320 ha of organic rice in Ca Mau province's U Minh District.

These rice areas, which do not use fertiliser, insecticide or weed killer, use only probiotic products.

The company's rice products were certified by Control Union Viet Nam Co Ltd to meet all standards required for organic rice, Khai said.

The Control Union World Group is a logistics, quality, certification and risk management specilists with a global presence.

A representative of the ITA Rice said that the company's high-quality rice products meet only domestic demand, and to export, the company would expand its high-quality rice area to 10,000 ha in the coming years.

In addition, An Giang Plant Protection Joint Stock Company has set aside 20 per cent of its total high-quality rice output for export.

Khai of Vien Phu Company said, to date, the company had exported 1,000 tonnes of high-quality rice to the US and Europe.

Overseas importers were ready to import additional 2,000 and 3,000 tonnes of high-quality rice, but the company cannot meet their demand, he said.

To grasp this opportunity, Vien Phu plans to ask farmers to develop an additional 20,000 ha to produce high-quality rice. — VNS

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