As of now, rice farmers in many delta provinces like Vinh Long, Soc Trang, Kien Giang and Dong Thap have started the early winter-spring crop. But the profits they obtained have considerably shrunk against the same period last year despite the crop’s high yield, at about eight tons of fresh paddy a hectare.

Rice growers in Dong Thap Province’s Thap Muoi District attributed their sharp profit decreases to low paddy prices in the context of the current high output volumes. For instance, traders are buying the high-grade rice OM 4900 from farmers at VND4,600-4,800 one kilo depending on quality, dipping VND600-800 a kilo from last year.

“Our profits have dropped substantially this winter-spring crop, slipping by some VND10 million a hectare on average year-on-year. This means that we only earn VND20 million to VND25 million a hectare from the crop,” farmer Cao Van Lam in Thap Muoi District lamented.

In the meantime, several rice exporting companies in the delta said that compared to two weeks ago, the current offering prices of Vietnamese rice have gone down around US$10-20 a ton. The prices have also fallen US$55-65 a ton over the highest level in October last year, they added.

The offering price of Vietnamese rice last Friday stayed at US$390-400 a ton for the 5% broken rice and US$555-565 a ton for the fragrant type. As for the 25% broken rice, its price was put at a mere US$355-365 per ton, even lower than the floor price of US$370 a ton applicable to the 35% broken rice that the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) had announced for the official validity from December 27.

Truong Thanh Phong, chairman of VFA, forecast more difficulties ahead for Vietnamese rice this year, especially this quarter. He ascribed the negative prediction to fiercer competition caused by the presence of cheap rice suppliers such as India and Pakistan.

Regardless of this, Pham Thai Binh, director of Trung An Limited Co. in Can Tho City, said he believed foreign importers prefer Vietnamese rice to products of India and Pakistan due to better delivery conditions and quality.

By Trung Chanh - The Saigon Times Daily - January 24,2013