Cassava has been listed as a key agricultural export, with the industry exporting 158,000 tonnes, worth a total value of 36 million USD in September.

“While other agricultural and forestry products have witnessed a down turn, the cassava industry has recently seen growth in both value and volume,” said Duong Long Tri, deputy head of IT and Statistics Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Tri said that total cassava export volume in the first nine months of the year totaled 473 million USD, double the number in the same period last year.

Demand for cassava from importers has increased as it can be used to process feed and produce ethanol-blended petrol.

“As the third biggest ethanol-blended petrol producer in the world [following US and Brazil ], mainland China has huge demand for cassava. This market its recovering, so demand has increased,” said Tri.

It was estimated that China needs to import about 6.5 million tonnes of cassava per year, he said, adding: “ China is the biggest importer of Vietnamese cassava. It imports about 90 percent of Vietnamee export cassava volume.”

The other big importers of Vietnamese cassava include Taiwan and the Republic of Korea .

As demand has recently increased, cassava export prices have sharply risen.

In 2008, the average price of cassava was 3 million VND (165 USD) per tonne. It declined at the end of 2008 and at the beginning of 2009 it rose to 2 million VND (111USD) per tonne.

However, with the global economy recovering, cassava price has risen. At Sai Gon Port , cassava prices are now running at 180 USD to 195 USD per tonne.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the country can harvest about 8.1-8.6 million tonnes of cassava this year, a 0.3 million tonne improvement on last year./.