Sunday,  Sep 20, 2020,19:40 (GMT+7) 0 0
Worries over sharp rise in rice exports to China unfounded: data
By Trung Chanh
Monday,  Mar 23, 2020,18:44 (GMT+7)

Worries over sharp rise in rice exports to China unfounded: data

By Trung Chanh

A man in the Mekong Delta region carries bags of rice. Concerns over a possible domestic rice shortage, due to substantial volumes of rice being exported to China amid the coronavirus outbreak, remain unfounded according to the data – PHOTO: TRUNG CHANH

CAN THO – With the recent surge in rice exports from Vietnam to China, some have called for restrictions, citing the coronavirus outbreak and saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta. However, data indicated the increase in exports should not be a concern, thanks to abundant supplies.

Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs revealed that Vietnam had exported more than 928,700 tons of rice worth nearly US$430.5 million in the first two months of this year, up 30.4% and 38.1% from a year earlier, respectively.

Of this amount, some 66,200 tons of rice were shipped to China at a total value of over US$37 million, which saw year-on-year increases of a whopping 594% and 723%.

Given these impressive figures, there are concerns over rice hoarding by Chinese traders. However, rice exports to the neighbor remain modest compared with the three million tons of rice exported to China annually in previous years.

Some individuals have so far called for a reduction in rice exports to the Chinese market of 1.4 billion people. The move is expected to ensure food security in Vietnam, amid the novel coronavirus epidemic and saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta, the country’s so-called rice bowl, which accounts for a staggering 90% of total exports.

Meanwhile, data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that the Mekong Delta had seen as many as 405,000 hectares of rice paddies being severely damaged by saltwater intrusion during the 2015-2016 winter-spring season. However, rice exports to China still amounted to over 1.7 million tons in 2016.

During the 2019-2020 winter-spring season, some 39,000 hectares of paddy fields were hit by saltwater intrusion, equivalent to some 9.6% of the total damaged area in the 2015-2016 season.

This meant the damage in 2019-2020 affected some 366,000 hectares of paddy fields less than in 2015-2016. However, the volume of rice exports to China in January-February this year reached some 66,000 tons, or some 33,000 tons per month, which was still less than the monthly average of 141,000 tons in 2016.

Taking these statistics into account, Vietnam has ample rice supplies for shipments to the northern neighbor. Therefore, it is necessary to speed up the export process to increase farmers’ incomes.

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