National reserves of rice may be tapped into to reduce the price on the domestic market, which has soared over the last few weeks due to increasing export demand, a deputy minister of agriculture and rural development said.

Diep Kinh Tan said about 1 million tonnes of rice held in reserve could be released onto the market if necessary to reduce the local price.

However, so far, the rice price has not risen excessively, he said.

Over the last two weeks, the price of processed five-percent broken rice for export has increased by roughly 10 percent to 538 USD-543 USD per tonne, while 15 percent broken rice now costs 514 USD -519 USD per tonne.

Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2) has signed contracts to export 300,000 tonnes to Indonesia at a price of 550 USD per tonne. Meanwhile, rice exports to Thailand have also increased.

The price is expected to continue rising, even though Vietnam has increased production by 4 percent this year to 41.6 million tonnes against last year, Tan said.

Vietnam Food Association said the price increase was due to increasing exports.

Meanwhile, the price of exported Vietnamese rise has surged to 568 USD per tonne (5 percent broken rice) and 530 USD per tonne (15 percent broken rice).

The high export price is expected to remain until the first quarter of 2012, depending on the price of Thai rice and the amount of rice India agrees to export, the association said.

By August 18, Vietnam had exported 4.87 million tonnes of rice, worth 2.3 billion USD. Of that total, 4.1 million tonnes came from the Mekong Delta./.