Bangkok Post highlights prudent Vietnamese rice strategy

Bangkok Post of Thailand recently published an article by Thai expert Suwatchai Songwanichi shedding light on the general quality of Vietnamese rice.
Bangkok Post highlights prudent Vietnamese rice strategy

The article states that as the world's second largest rice exporter, Vietnam made a surprising move this month by starting to import the grain from India. It is therefore importing the cheaper Indian rice in an effort to meet domestic demand while saving its own output, which is currently selling at a multi-year high, specifically for the export market.

The Thai economist points out that the price of Vietnamese rice in recent times has been outperforming that of Thailand, which traditionally attracted a high premium. One factor is that the country has signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, thereby opening the door to greater prospects in the lucrative European market. Indeed, the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will also open fresh markets for higher-priced rice.

Vietnam can be viewed as being in a strong position to take advantage of these opportunities, having strived to improve the quality and variety of its rice. In addition to producing more high-quality fragrant rice, Vietnamese researchers have also been developing varieties aimed at meeting market trends such as soft-textured white rice, alongside reorganising production methods, improving both food safety and quality management, and increasing yields.

These efforts have served to meet higher yields whilst improving brand recognition and picking up various global accolades, such as winning the best rice variety at the World Rice Trade Conference in 2019, coming second to Thailand last year.

The article outlines that Thailand once held the crown as the world's largest rice exporter, but has now slipped into third place behind India and Vietnam. Moving forward, Thailand must learn from how Vietnam adapted its trade in order to match market developments.

Recent years has seen Thai rice lose popularity with consumers shifting to softer rice types. It is anticipated that Thailand could drop to fifth place over the next decade if it remains complacent and fails to develop a more perse and competitive long-term rice strategy.

The article states that there are some positive signs that policymakers are beginning to take action on this front. Last year saw Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit announce a five-year strategy aimed at accelerating the development of 12 new rice varieties. This includes four hard-textured varieties of white rice, four varieties of soft-textured white rice, two varieties of Thai Hom Mali fragrant rice, and two varieties of high-nutrition rice.

The economic expert emphasises that Thailand will need to do more in order to regain its crown as the world's largest rice exporter. Drawing lessons from Vietnam's experience, the entire supply chain must be looked at, whilst Thai productivity has also lagged behind regional competitors for years, with local rice yields at approximately 450kg per rai (a rai equivalent to 1,600sq.m.) compared with 960kg for Vietnam and two tonnes for China.

One way Thailand can find its way out of the economic crisis triggered by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is to build on its advantages as a food-producing country by adding value and improving efficiency, with rice being a good place to start, the expert notes.

Source: VOV
vov.vn

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