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The Rising Price of Rice
06 | 08 | 2007
The world demand for rice in 2008 is expected to be 245 million tonnes while current harvest projections are 240 million tonnes, five million tonnes short of the need. When a shortage is predicted, prices in the world market tend to go up slightly even before the shortage exists, said participants in the Third Rice Trade Cooperation Conference held recently in the City of Ha Long, Vietnam. Such was the opinion of representatives of food associations from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
At the conference the representatives of these countries which contribute 45 percent of world's rice exports discussed the health and safety aspects of export rice, the need to keep genetically-modified rice out of shipments of export rice, and Thai-Vietnamese cooperation in rice exports. Experts said that the World Food Security Reserve Fund had 140 million tonnes of rice last year but has only 76 million tonnes at this moment. It is expected that 2007 will be a good year for rice exporting countries in that the price of rice will climb due to growing demand in the Middle East and Africa. The demand is expected to continue to increase in 2008 while at the same time harvests are expected to diminish somewhat.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that the price of rice in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has risen and now averages VND2,950 per kilo. Farmers are just now harvesting their summer-autumn crop and exporters are buying it to ship overseas. The FOB price of Vietnamese five-percent broken rice at Ho Chi Minh City’s port yesterday stood at US$305-307 per tonne and for 25 percent broken rice it was US$290 per tonne, US$30-40 per tonne higher than it was two months ago.

Vietnam, which is the number two rice seller in the world, has a shrinking rice cultivation area with land shifting to aquaculture and the production of vegetables, secondary crops and fruits. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that 450,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice were exported earning more than US$143 million in June and more than 2.3 million tonnes were exported to earn more than US$731 million in the first half of this year. This is 18 percent less in volume and a drop of 6 percent in value compared to the same months of last year.

Thailand is expecting to harvest 29 million tonnes of rice and export 8.5 million tonnes in 2007. So far this year, four million tones of Thai rice have been exported, a 10 percent increase against last year.

The Vietnam Food Association said that the price of Vietnamese rice has consistently been US$20 per tonne lower than that of Thai rice. If Vietnamese rice could command a price as high as that of Thai rice, about US$80 million more could be gained per year. It is now being predicted that 36 million tonnes of rice will be harvested in Vietnam this year (18.8 million tonnes in the Cuu Long Delta). During the first six months of this year, the export price of Vietnamese rice was US$40 per tonne higher than it was a year ago. However, because 18 percent less was exported, revenue fell six percent.

In 2006, Vietnam exported 4.75 tonnes of rice to earn US$1.3 billion, 10 percent less in both volume and revenue than in 2005. The lower yield and reduction in quality was a result of widespread grasshopper infestation followed by rust blight.



Vietnam Economic News Online
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