The country exported 181,000 tonnes of rice in the first half of May worth 79.87 million USD, lifting the shipment to date this year to 1.932 million tonnes worth 845.38 million USD, according to data from the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

The association stated that the average price for export rice this month reached 441.51 USD per tonne, down roughly 21 USD per tonne against the same period last month.

However, domestic rice prices were reported to have edged up in the week through May 15, versus a week ago. In detail, in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the prices of dried rice with husk were from 5,300 – 5,750 VND per kilogram depending on rice variety, up 50-100 VND per kilogram.

Prices of 5 percent broken rice were from 6,900 to 7,000 VND per kilogram, up 100 VND per kilogram; prices of 15 percent broken rice were from 7,700 to 7,800 VND per kilogram, up 50 VND per kilogram; and prices of 25 percent broken rice were from 7,400 to 7,500 VND per kilogram, up 50 VND per kilogram.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated Vietnam's milled rice exports to increase to about 7.2 million tonnes this year, up about 8 percent from about 6.7 million tonnes last year due to higher production and increased export demand from Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, China and the Philippines backed by low prices.

FAO has estimated Vietnam's total paddy rice production at about 44.2 million tonnes (around 27.6 million tonnes of milled rice) in 2014, marginally higher than about 44 million tonnes (around 27.5 million tonnes of milled rice) produced in 2013. The UN agency, however, forecasts Vietnam's paddy rice production from 2014 winter/spring crop at 20.3 million tonnes, similar to last year's production, despite shifting part of the rice fields to other crops, due to higher yields, favourable weather conditions and adequate water supplies.

However, VFA last week lowered the country's 2014 rice export target to 6.2 million tonnes from the earlier target of 6.5 – 7 million tonnes due to heavy competition from India and Thailand.-VNA