Export Strategy to Enhance Quality and Adapt to Changing Climate
Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rice exporter, has outlined its plan to reduce rice exports from 7.1 million tonnes in 2021 to 4 million tonnes per year by 2030, according to a government document. The strategy aims to prioritize the export of high-quality rice, ensure domestic food security, protect the environment, and adapt to climate change. However, some rice traders and farmers express concerns about the feasibility of this ambitious plan.
Shifting Agriculture Patterns and Climate Change Impact
As climate change affects rice farming areas and leads some farmers to switch to other crops or shrimp cultivation, the government’s aggressive export strategy raises concerns. While some rice farmers in the Mekong Delta region are diversifying into fruit farming, the majority of farmers remain dependent on rice production. The trend of cultivating shrimp has been prevalent in the area due to rising seawater levels caused by climate change, which significantly increases salinity in the region.
Diversifying Export Markets and Reducing Reliance
To reduce reliance on any single country, Vietnam aims to diversify its rice export markets. Currently, the Philippines is the largest buyer of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 45% of total shipments in 2021. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has expressed willingness to supply rice to the Philippines in the long term at reasonable prices. The export market diversification strategy aims to allocate 60% of rice exports to Asian markets, 22% to Africa, 7% to America, 4% to the Middle East, and 3% to Europe by 2025.
Focus on Quality and Reduction of Low-Quality Grains
Vietnam’s government emphasizes the production of high-quality, fragrant, and glutinous rice while aiming to decrease the production of low-quality grains. The strategy aims to reduce the production of low-quality grains to 15% of total output by 2025 and further decrease it to 10% by 2030. The government intends to foster the image of Vietnamese rice as a premium product in the global market.
Rice exports from Vietnam have been on the rise, with a 40.7% increase in the first four months of 2022 compared to the same period the previous year. The Vietnam Food Association, representing rice processors and exporters, has not yet provided any comment on the government’s export strategy. However, doubts remain among some rice traders and farmers regarding the feasibility of the government’s ambitious plan, as they believe rice production is influenced by supply and demand rather than a government decision.