Monday, August 4, 2008

Cambodia rice floods into Mekong border provinces


11:28' 04/08/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Thousands of tonnes of rice are being imported daily from Cambodia into Vietnam's Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

Without these middle-men, who are a "burden" on them, farmers can sell rice for VND6,000 for export.

In the border province of An Giang, Cambodian rice is flooding into "transit depots" in areas like Vat Lai (An Phu District), Cay Mit and Duong Su (Tinh Bien District), and Vinh Gia (Tri Ton District) after being transported by boats and trucks.

On the Vinh Te canal in the border village of Duong Su in Tinh Bien District, hundreds of trucks and boats arrive at husking factories from Cambodia every day.

Meanwhile, local farmers are sitting on heaps of rice along roads in Duong Su, awaiting buyers.

Nguyen Quoc Tuan, deputy chairman of the An Nong Commune People's Committee, said the four local businesses that buy Cambodian paddy in Duong Su procured 100 to 200 tonnes daily.

Nguyen Van Ut, owner of the Dai Thanh husking factory in Tan Chau District, said Cambodian rice cost VND3,800 to 4,200 per kilogram, a little lower than local rice.

"This makes it more difficult for Vietnamese farmer to sell their produce," he said.

He said his factory bought 200 tonnes of domestic rice last year but much less this year. At the beginning of the season, husking businesses bought rice for VND4,800 per kilogram and sold rice to exporters at VND6,050, or US$352 per tonne.

Ut said this was half the international rice. "Rice exporters earned all the profits and did not share the (rice export) cake with farmers and rice processors."

Prof. Vo Tong Xuan, ex-director of An Giang University, said because of the critical food shortage on the world market, Cambodian paddy was a windfall for Vietnamese businesses.

Though countries were expanding the areas under rice cultivation, there was a growing demand for the grain on the world market and prices would remain high, he said.

"We should use this opportunity wisely rather than close the door to imported rice," he explained.

The Vietnamese rice trade is burdened with many layers of intermediaries who add to the cost, he said.

Without these middle-men, who are a "burden" on them, farmers can sell rice for VND6,000 for export.

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