Viet Nam targets 2 million tonnes of rice exports in the second quarter of the year, with 650,000 tonnes to be exported this month, according to the Viet Nam Food Association.
Speaking to the press in HCM City yesterday, Pham Van Bay, VFA deputy chairman, said that businesses had exported 1.08 million tonnes of rice for a free-on-board (FOB) value of US$529.8 million in the first quarter of the year.
This was a fall of 41.19 per cent in volume and 40.15 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.
The number of export contracts in the first two months of the year had fallen considerably compared to the same period last year.
However, exports picked up in March, with export contracts increasing by 12 per cent compared to March last year.
Asian countries have been the main buyers of Vietnamese rice during this period.
An increase in rice imports from China in the past few months has helped local exporters, with the figure expected to remain high until the end of the year, due to high demand.
Exports to Africa in the first three months accounted for 20 per cent of the country's total rice exports, as stock fell in a number of countries there.
In addition, the price and quality of Vietnamese rice has been more competitive than other exporters, including India and Pakistan.
Contrary to last year, when the market mostly imported low-grade rice, African countries are demanding a higher quality of rice.
That is true for other traditional markets for Vietnamese rice as well, according to Bay.
He said that Vietnamese farmers should limit growing low-grade paddy IR50404 because demand had dropped for this kind of rice.
However, the market for fragrant rice is still good, and farmers have been urged to grow more rice for the autumn-winter crop.
Bay said fragrant rice should not be planted for the summer-autumn crop because the weather is unfavourable.
As for the national programme to stockpile one million tonnes of rice, he said enterprises had bought 693,894 tonnes of rice as of April 6. The programme is expected to end on April 15 instead of April 30 as previously scheduled.