The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) estimated a 466,000 tonne increase in this year's winter-spring rice crop compared to that of 2011 with farmers, having already harvested 20.26 million tonnes by June 15.

It said southern and central regions have completed harvesting and are busy cultivating summer-autumn crops while in the north, farmers in the rice hubs of Thai Binh and Nam Dinh provinces are still busy collecting winter-spring produce.

According to Do Hai Dien, head of the Nam Dinh Cultivation Office, local farmers have so far harvested 40 percent of their rice crops.

With winter-spring paddy so quickly harvested, producers across the country has started planting their summer-autumn crops earlier, said Nguyen Tri Ngoc, deputy director of the MARD's Cultivation Department.

The ministry said local farmers have planted more than 3.12 million ha of summer-autumn produce with an estimated capacity of 6.5 tonnes per ha.

For this crop, some farmers have even recorded 10 tonnes per ha for their winter-spring rice.

Though the ministry praised the good result and said it will encourage farmers to expand rice areas to ensure food security and exports, low prices remain a concern.

Similar to many other rice production localities, central Quang Binh province enjoyes a high yield of winter-spring crops, but local farmers are still worried about current low prices at about 4.5 million VND (215 USD) per tonne, compared to nearly VND7 million (330 USD) last year.

To cope with the matter, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said to further stabilise local rice prices, ensuring farmers a profit, the MARD suggested temporarily buying and storing a million tonnes of rice. Enterprises that participate will be supported with low interest loan from July to September.-VNA