Vietnam rice industry should focus on quality: experts hinh anh 1Workers at Hau River Food Company in the southern Can Tho Province load rice for export. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA)-Vietnamese rice producers and exporters should focus on quality and supplying products that are in demand to sustain the production and export of the grain and add value to the grain, heard a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on October 17.

Speaking at the meeting held to discuss Vietnam’s Rice Market Development Strategy from 2017 to 2020, Phan Van Chinh, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s import-export department, said the global rice market had seen changes, with major importing countries increasing domestic production.

“Free trade agreements theoretically create opportunities for Vietnam to boost exports to these markets, but to do so Vietnamese rice must meet the quality standards set by these markets.”

To achieve sustainable production and export, the Government has approved a strategy for the 2017–20 period.

Tran Xuan Long of the import-export department said one of the goals of the strategy was to gradually reduce rice export volume but increase value.

Between 2021 and 2030 the annual volume is expected to be around four million tonnes, earning 2.3 billion - 2.5 billion USD. The make-up of the exports would also be restructured then, with a focus on increasing the export of fragrant, speciality, japonica and high-grade white rice, he said.

Vietnam would focus on Asian and African markets, with China, Bangladesh and ASEAN members such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia remaining key markets.

Huynh Minh Hue, general secretary of the Vietnam Food Association, said the main varieties of rice traded in global markets are basmati, parboil, fragrant, white broken rice, sticky rice, japonica, and white long-grain rice.

Vietnam is well placed in terms of sticky rice, fragrant, white broken rice, and white long-grain rice, he said.

He said rice traders should “capitalise on their advantages to develop nearby and traditional markets whose demands dovetail with Vietnam’s conditions.”

To improve the competitiveness of rice traders, which is one of the measures in the strategy, businesses should focus on improving quality and marketing and cut costs, he said.

Rice traders and exporters should establish links with farmers to ensure supply meets market demand and efficiency, he said.

Pham Thai Binh, general director of Trung An Hi-tech Farming JSC, said rice traders who have contracted farmers that use safe production processes have bagged export orders from the beginning.

The country should have zoning plans for each variety of rice based on soil conditions in different areas and use technology to improve the quality and value, he said.

Delegates at the meeting called on the Government to speed up negotiations and sign agreements on hygiene and food safety standards with importing countries.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should decide on and apprise exporters about the process of quality inspection and hygiene and food safety regulations in line with those agreements, they said.

Relevant agencies should review seaport planning and speed up loading and unloading of goods at ports to reduce logistics costs, they said.

They called for cooperation among traders in promoting exports.

According to the VFA, Vietnam is expected to export 5.6 million tones of rice this year.-VNA