Gov't intervention sought to help rice farmers

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Vietnamese agricultural experts Friday called for more government support to ensure profitability for local farmers as rice prices have been falling recently.

Huynh Minh Hue, general secretary of the Vietnam Food Association, said farmers in the Mekong Delta have started harvesting the summer-fall crop of around 1.6 million hectares.

However, production costs have risen and rice prices have been declining, making it difficult for farmers to earn any profit, he said.

Hue said the best option now was to stockpile rice and stabilize prices. For this, the government should step in and make sure farmers and businesses don't incur losses, he added.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bui Ba Bong, had said last year that the government would take measures to ensure profits of at least 30 percent for farmers.

But Dang Kim Son, head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi, said at a conference on Friday that the target has not been achieved.

Prices of fertilizer and other inputs needed for agricultural production have not been controlled well and rice prices have not been stable, Son said.

Other experts at the conference said the Mekong Delta has great potential for agricultural production but insufficient infrastructure and investment hindered proper development of the sector.

Foreign investment only accounted for 3-4 percent of the total investment in agriculture, they said.

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