The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has called on the country’s farmers to put more focus on producing high-quality products like fragrant and glutinous rice to export to Africa, the world’s biggest rice consumer.

The continent has an annual demand of over 9 million tonnes, including 6.5 million tonnes from imports.

The MoIT said rice exporters have gained a stronger foothold in overseas markets thanks to their quality products. However, their success is threatened by growing competition with India and Thailand, which offer low-cost rice as one of their selling points.

In January–August 2013, Vietnam shipped 600,000 tonnes of fragrant rice to Africa, nearly half of its total grain imports.

This year, the ministry will hold visits to Angola and Ivory Coast where two memorandums of understanding on rice trade are expected to be signed. A number of African firms will be invited to Vietnam to seek partners.

To minimise risks, it will offer advice to Vietnamese rice exporters while making it easier for them to open representative offices and warehouses abroad.-VNA