Le Viet Hai, director of Mekong Can Tho Joint Stock Company, said rice stockpiling had failed to obtain the most important goal of increasing farmers’ incomes in the context that production costs were surging.

To support farmers, the State should take several practical measures such as easing the burden of fees on rural residents. At present, rural people are imposed various types of fees for flood and disaster prevention among others.

Le Minh Truong, director of Song Hau Food Company, shared the view that farmers in the Mekong Delta are now burdened with fees. It is estimated that a farmer has to pay 14 different kinds of fee each year.

“These fees are not high, but they put farmers under pressure as the costs of living and production are rising sharply,” said Truong.

Every year, an amount from the State budget capital is set aside to support farmers, but farmers rarely receive that financial aid. Therefore, in addition to the current solutions, the State should reduce fees imposed on farmers, which would be a direct and practical support for them.

Speaking to the Daily, Truong Thanh Phong, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, said a provision in the draft rice stockpiling scheme regulates that each farming household wanting to receive financial support must store at least 10 tons of rice at homes or co-operatives is not viable.

Farmers cannot afford to build warehouses for temporary rice storage. Even if they could, the rice volumes would not be enough to meet the provision, Phong explained.

There are currently 1.5 million rice growing households in the Mekong Delta, 86% of which are farming on a mere 0.3-0.5 hectares, while the remaining 14% are cultivating rice on more than one hectare of farmland each.

“The provision is unfavorable to farmers, since only the well-off farmers can satisfy the condition on rice volume. Poor farmers with small land areas will not benefit from this provision,” Phong demonstrated.

The State should give farmers interest-free loans to buy materials. Furthermore, the State needs to improve rural infrastructure, invest in irrigation, and create jobs for rural residents.

By Tran Son - The Saigon Times Daily - September 13, 2012