Rice farmers in Vietnam are short of storage

CAN THO (VNS)— A majority of Vietnamese farmers, especially those in the Mekong Delta, have chosen to sell their paddy at the rice fields after harvest, which has reduced their profits.

At the conference held on Monday in Can Tho City organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the results of a survey on household rice-storage facilities were discussed with provincial authorities and farmers from the Delta.

To help farmers earn a 30 per cent profit from their rice cultivation and to ensure national food security, the Government appointed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop a warehouse system in the Mekong Delta that could stock 4 million tonnes of paddy and rice by 2013.

The warehouses include storage facilities at farmers' houses. To prepare for the plan, MARD asked the Mekong Rice Research Institute to conduct a survey on household-storage facilities in the Mekong Delta.

The survey was conducted at 1,600 farmer households in the Mekong provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang and Tra Vinh.

Dr Doan Manh Tuong, deputy head of the agricultural-research transfer centre under the Mekong Rice Research Institute, said: "Selling undried paddy at the fields right after harvest is one of the major problems in the Government's rice-reserve scheme for storing rice at farmers households."

Tuong said farmers preferred selling undried paddy because many did not have storage facilities. Many incur high storage costs, while others need money to pay for past investments.

In the past few years, farmers could not earn a 30 per cent profit from rice cultivation as paddy prices fell and few of them had no access to Government support.

According to the survey results, 84 per cent of farmer households in the region do not have their own paddy storage facilities.

At least 37 per cent of the rest invest their own money, 46 per cent use money from bank loans, and 18 per cent use other loans from sources outside the banking system to build storage facilities, according to Pham Van Du, deputy head of MARD's Department of Plant Cultivation.

Ho Quang Cua, deputy director of the Soc Trang Department of Agriculture and Development, said the State agencies should be responsible for paddy and rice storage because farmers could not afford the high investments.

Pham Nhat Ai, director of the Vinh Long Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmers should store their paddy and rice in their own facilities.

Government agencies should advise them on how long they should stock their paddy and rice while they await higher prices.

Duong Nghia Quoc, director of the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Government should help farmers who produce 15 to 20 tonnes of rice per crop to build their own storage facilities.

Pham Van Bay, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association, said farmers should be supported to build their stocking facilities."However, it's not easy for traders to force paddy rice prices down at harvest," he said.

The chair of the conference, the deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bui Ba Bong, said: "Both farmers and businesses are encouraged to build paddy and rice-stock facilities. The Government will have policies to help them get bank loans to build warehouses to store their rice". — VNS

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