HCM CITY — Central and provincial agricultural officials agreed that the Government should approve a plan for food companies to buy and stockpile 1 million tonnes of rice from the summer-autumn crop to enable farmers to sell their crops and prevent a fall in prices.
At a meeting held in HCM City yesterday officials from the Cultivation Department and provincial agriculture departments and executives from rice export companies, they also promised to take up the issue with the Government.
The Government often supports food companies with interest-free loans to enable them to buy rice and other crops, especially when prices begin to fall.
Nguyen Tri Ngoc, head of the Cultivation Department, said with the rice crop being harvested, the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) should more actively seek export markets.
Le Thanh Tung, his colleague, said 1.64 million ha had so far been sown in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, and 2.9 million tonnes of rice were expected to be harvested.
Many delegates expressed concern about the lack of demand for the low-grade IR 50404 rice despite low prices.
Tung said his department as well as local authorities had warned farmers to limit cultivation of IR 50404 to 10 per cent of land under the summer-autumn rice crop.
But statistics from local agriculture departments showed that planting of the variety had been as high as 20 per cent, Tung said.
The IR 50404 strain had advantages like high yield, short growing period, and ease of cultivation, but foreign markets were increasingly demanding high-grade varieties, he said.
Both Ngoc and Tung urged localities to curtail cultivation of IR 50404 in the autumn – winter crop beginning in a few months.
Tung also said the autumn-winter crop should be restricted to 600,000ha – compared to 680,000ha last year – to minimise loss from the annual flooding.
Besides, farmers should refrain from planting in areas without dyke systems to keep out the floodwaters, he said.
Le Van Doi, deputy director of the Hau Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, asked relevant agencies to provide information about the global demand for various kinds of rice so that farmers could be provided with guidance.
This year Viet Nam had exported 2.9 million tonnes, 20.1 per cent down year-on-year, Pham Van Bay, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association, said.
The country hoped to export 6.5-7 million tonnes in the full year, he added.
The conference, held to discuss ways to stimulate demand for the summer-autumn rice crop in the delta and strategies for the autumn-winter rice crop, was organised by the Cultivation Department. — VNS