“My house is now filled with paddies, but I cannot manage to sell even a single seed,” lamented Pham Van Minh, a farmer in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang’s Tan Phuoc District.
Minh said several traders have come to browse the paddies, bargained, and quickly left.
“How can I clear the debts with the fertilizer and insecticide suppliers?”
Similarly, Le Phuong Quyen, another local farmer, has also been desperately seeking buyers for his 30 tons of grains over the last week.
“The traders deposited VND1.5 million (US$72) for the harvest, then completely disappeared,” said Quyen.
“They told me that they were willing to lose the deposit, and asked me to seek another buyer.”
However, Quyen still could not make any sales, even though the price is only VND4,200 a kilogram.
A bit luckier than Quyen was his neighbor, Le Van Rong, who managed to sell around 9.6 tons of paddies after a desperate week of searching for traders, at the throwaway price of VND4,200 a kg.
“The traders are extremely hateful,” said Quyen.
“They acted as if they do not need us, examined the grains for ages, and ended up complaining that they are of low quality.”
For his part, Huynh Thanh Nam, a trader who is looking for grains in Tan Phuoc District, said traders have hesitated to buy from farmers, since their next customers -- rice exporters -- only purchase low quantities at unchanged prices.
“No traders want to have large paddy stockpiles for fears that the exporters will unexpectedly cut buying prices,” he explained.
“We do not buy much from farmers, to minimize the losses just in case.”
“Rice exporters have been allocated stockpile quotas and are hurriedly buying paddies,” confirmed Pham Van Bay, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).
Bay said the exporters have purchased more than 120,000 tons of rice, which is 12.03 percent of the plan.
“It is such a speedy progress,” said Bay.
However, the director of a Long An-based agricultural firm said the progress seems quick on the surface, but it is in fact not that speedy.
“There are as many as 90 companies taking part in the stockpile plan, far greater than in previous years,” he elaborated.
“Should rice exporters continue buying from farmers at this pace, they will not ease the latter’s pressure to empty their piles of paddies.”
He said the more exporters procrastinate in buying farmers’ grains, the harder the pressure will become, and domestic paddy rice cannot shoot up.
“That is why paddy prices only rise by VND200 a kg, while the this week soared by $15 a ton against last week, and by $50 compared to the lowest rate recorded early this year,” the director said.
Meanwhile, Tran Duc Tung, former specialist of the Planning Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, criticized the stockpile plan for only benefiting rice exporters.
In his view, an official from the Cultivation Agency said the plan is not to be blamed, but the VFA’s non-transparent management is at fault.
“VFA has kept most of the information regarding export contracts confidential, so farmers do not know how to determine their paddy prices,” he said.
“Meanwhile, since rice exporters know the exporting prices, they will demand to buy from farmers at a price that is as low as possible.”