|Viet Nam recorded significant achievements in the past with production going up from just 16 million tonnes in 1998 to 44 million tonnes in 2013. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet
HA NOI (VNS) — Officials and experts have repeated the need to increase the quality of Vietnamese rice and promote a national brand as measures to ensure sustainable rice production in the country.
Addressing a conference discussing policies needed to boost the domestic rice industry, Tran Cong Thang, deputy director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said Viet Nam recorded significant achievements in the past with production going up from just 16 million tonnes in 1998 to 44 million tonnes in 2013.
However, he added, Vietnamese rice typically sold at lower prices than other exporting nations.
He said the rice industry should focus on increasing its competitiveness, balancing the benefits of stakeholders in the value-added chain and ensuring fair benefits.
"There must be better application of technology that allows farmers to use less water, save input costs and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers," he said.
At the conference, participants heard that in Quang Binh Province, with support from the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, small rice farmers were able to benefit from efforts to reduce input costs, improve water management, use better sowing techniques and improve soil fertility.
The three-year (2012-14) project also forged stronger links between rice farmers and businesses.
Nguyen Van Vuong of the Plant Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said lack of support and infrastructure for rice research and development was a problem facing the industry.
He singled out the lack of research in post-harvest technology as a major development hurdle.
Vuong said the country had been largely focused on exporting rice to markets that do not demand high quality because it did not have enough facilities as well as qualified scientists to research high-value rice varieties.
He said the industry needed more high-quality varieties that can resist insects and adapt to changing weather patterns.
Luong Van Vuong, an official with the Thai Nguyen Plant Protection Bureau, said his province suffered significant loss of agricultural land due to urbanisation and development of industrial parks.
Small farmers, therefore, were still struggling with finding output markets and their production was largely fragmented, he said.
"We need to increase awareness among farmers and support them in increasing productivity and lowering input costs," he said.
Tran Thu Thuy, head of the Phu Tho Plant Bureau, said the province was looking at ways to better connect rice processors and exporters with farmers.
She said she hoped that the Government would provide further support for localities where farmers had had their rice crop damaged or lost to disasters or diseases. — VNS