The Dong Xuan - Phu Yen cassava starch processing factory in central Quang Ngai province (Photo: VNA)

The country exported 3.05 million tonnes of cassava, worth 951 million USD, in the first eight months of the year.

This amounts to 26 percent and 29 percent year-on-year increases in terms of quantity and value, respectively.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that China was still the largest cassava importer, accounting for 89 percent of the total exports, posting a year-on-year increase of 53 percent and 46 percent in quantity and value, respectively.

However, the volume of exports to Japan and Taiwan (China) grew 10 times and 64 times, respectively, posting the highest level of growth.

Nghiem Minh Tien, Vice-Chairman of the Vietnam Cassava Association, told Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper that the average export price of cassava remained about 420 USD to 430 USD per tonne and was relatively stable. In the past few years, Vietnam's cassava exports faced fierce competition from Thailand as that country provided subsidies to the product. However, that policy was scrapped as Thailand's baht was devalued against US dollar, making Vietnam's cassava again competitive.

He said 80 percent of the country's total cassava exports this year would be shipped to China, adding that too much dependence on the market has been the shortcoming of the sector.

In addition, low productivity will also make the sector less competitive. The cassava sector has an average productivity of 17.6 tonnes per ha, which needs to be increased to 25 tonnes per ha.

Businesses should link the areas cultivating the raw material to production to increase productivity, Tien said.

Vietnamese cassava is exported to several markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Middle East and Malaysia.

In the future, Vietnam plans to head to the United States and the European Union.

The vice-chairman said the export potential of cassava was large and the sector aimed for an export turnover of 2 billion USD by 2020.

The association has cooperated with the Ministry of Science and Technology to build quality standards for cassava cultivation. The standards will follow the criteria of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to penetrate strict and demanding markets.

He said the economy has integrated deeply with the world market through free trade agreements that could help the sector as tariffs would not be a barrier.

The association has implemented trade promotion activities to reduce dependence on the Chinese market.

They will cooperate with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organise an international conference in October to introduce Vietnamese cassava products.-VNA