Farmers unhappy despite bumper rice crop
By Trung Chanh - The Saigon Times Daily
CAN THO – Farmers are complaining about low paddy prices that almost wipe out their profits despite the bumper crop in this summer-autumn season whose harvest has started in the Mekong Delta.
In Dong Thap Province, for example, farmers have harvested 7,000 out of 189,000 hectares of rice there with an average productivity of 6.1-6.2 tons per hectare, said Duong Nghia Quoc, director of the provincial department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
However, farmers stated that what they earned from the early harvest can barely cover input costs for the coming crop as the rice price stayed low while their spending on fertilizer, plant protection drugs and labor is on the rise.
“This year, we earn a higher rice productivity than previous years, at 7-7.5 tons per hectare, but a steady fall in price leaves us lower-than-expected profits,” said Nguyen Van Chieu, a rice farmer in Dong Thap Province.
“In fact, we have nothing left but some money to pay for the costs of fertilizer and plant protection drugs for the crop ahead,” he added.
Farmers can earn a profit of VND15-18 million per hectare from rice harvests if farming conditions are favorable, while others with unfavorable conditions can earn only VND12-15 million per hectare at most.
The scenario repeated in other rice cultivation areas in the delta.
At present, the Mekong Delta has harvested 300,0000 out of 1.5 million hectares of rice that have been planted early this summer-autumn crop, according to the Southern Plant Protection Center.
The volatility in rice price has stirred up worries to farmers who are about to start their rice harvests en masse.
The price of rice dropped VND200 per kilo against ten days ago. For instance, rice traders in Tien Giang Province currently purchase low-grade grain IR50404 at VND4,300-4,400 a kilo for fresh paddy and VND5,200 for dried paddy.
Lower quality plus poor export performance attributed to the downtrend of rice prices, said a rice merchant in Dong Thap.
As for processed rice, the market saw a price decline of VND200-300 per kilo. In particular, low-grade rice IR 50404 is bought at VNDVND8,000-8,100 a kilo in Tien Giang Province.