Illustrative photo. (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) – The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has forecast that Vietnam’s rice exports in 2017 will reach over 5 million tonnes, a slight rise over 2016.

World husked rice production in the 2016-2017 crop is predicted to reach a record volume of 480 million tonnes, about 1.6 percent increase year on year, said VFA General Secretary Huynh Minh Hue at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on January 23.

Meanwhile, global rice inventory is also forecast to stand at the highest level since 2001. The inventory is likely to reduce in major exporters but rise in small ones and importers, leading to a fall in import as well as limitation of rice trading contracts.

Hue revealed that in 2016, ASEAN countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia imported only 10 percent of their volumes they bought each year from Vietnam in previous years at 2-3 million tonnes.

He explained the situation to the countries’ new policies in food security, which helped them ensure domestic food and reduce dependence on import. The liberalisation trend in rice trading was also more popular in these countries, affecting their rice contracts, he said, adding the fierce competition from regional exporters as another reason.

In that context, Huynh The Nang, VFA President and General Director of Southern Food Corporation, said that Vietnam will continue facing difficulties in exporting rice in 2017. He predicted that exports to the Chinese market, the largest market of Vietnamese rice, will also not meet expectation as only 22 firms are currently allowed to export rice to the market with strict requirements in food safety and origin regulations.

According to the VFA, rice inventory in 2016 was 443,000 tonnes, while the upcoming Winter-Spring crop is about to be harvested. The association also forecast low price and difficulty in consumption due to abundant supply, and rice exports for 2017 will be over 5 million tonnes.

The association suggested that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development propose the Government to stockpile rice harvested in the Winter-Spring crop to stablise the market and ensure profit for farmers.

Last year, rice export volume reached nearly 4.9 million tonnes worth 2.1 billion USD, a sharp fall of 25.5 percent in volume and 20.5 percent in value over 2015. However, domestic rice price still rise compared to the previous year.-VNA