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Mekong Delta rice plan posts initial successes
MEKONG DELTA — Producing rice of a very high quality has been one of various initial success stories stemming from the Government’s programme to cultivate 1 million hectares of rice for export in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, but problems still remain.

Nguyen Van Hoa, chief representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MARD) Agriculture Department in the southern region, said the MARD began co-ordinating with provinces in the Delta in 1999 to implement the Government’s programme on growing high-quality rice for the export market.

The programme has been implemented in all of the Delta’s 12 provinces, with the largest areas under cultivation (more than 100,000ha) in Kien Giang (100,000ha), Soc Trang (120,000ha), Dong Thap (120,000ha), Hau Giang (140,000ha) and An Giang (157,000ha) provinces. Ben Tre Province has the smallest area under cultivation — only 20,000ha.

Hoa said there are large areas available for farming in all the provinces, so they only need to identify suitable places with favourable conditions, like access to fresh water and already existing irrigation systems and traffic networks, to further develop rice farms.

He said the ministry considers developing different varieties of rice as the most important element of the programme, because they determine the quality of the rice.

The MARD has assigned the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Rice Institute to develop different pure strains of rice, and raise the knowledge of local cadres and farmers, as well as teaching them new techniques and production models.

The provinces apply advanced technologies, including integrated pest management measures, to raise productivity and rice quality and so reduce the price of their products. They also apply post-harvest technology to reduce crop losses.

The most important outflow of the programme has been that rice production in the Delta has been growing rapidly, as can be seen in the increasing amounts of rice available for export. The Delta now produces more than 90 per cent of Viet Nam’s export rice crop.

In 2000, Viet Nam exported 3.4 million tonnes of rice, valued at US$667 million. Last year, the country exported 5.1 million tonnes of rice valued at $1.3 billion, representing a 1.5-times increase in the amount and a doubling of export turnover.

Rice quality has also been improving because the provinces have concentrated on cultivating different varieties and applying new post-harvest technologies.

After implementation of the programme, the Delta’s farmers have started farming with new high-quality rice strains, while applying modern production methods and harvesting technologies. This marks an important change in their ages-old, traditional farming habits.

As for different rice varieties, farmers have changed from growing normal rice species to better strains to improve the quality of their crops. More than 80 per cent of the areas that grow rice for export have been planted with these high-quality strains.

Since 2000, An Giang Province has built a centre for producing different rice varieties, and established 64 groups involving 2,000 households for developing new strains. After every harvest the groups supply farmers with 10,000 tonnes of rice. New rice processing technologies have also been implemented, resulting in a sharp improvement in quality.

But some problems still remain. Professor Bui Chi Buu, head of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Rice Institute, said many farmers still use seeds from previous crops to plant their fields.

Many experts said that producing rice for export will face many challenges on the market.

Therefore, it is necessary to invest comprehensively in information supply and market forecasts for farmers, building and upgrading stores and infrastructures for high-quality rice production, such as roads and irrigation systems, and further develop post-harvest technology
MGR Archive 12.3.2006
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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