Ministry eyes green lane for waterway rice transport

By Anh Minh   August 16, 2021 | 08:00 pm PT
Ministry eyes green lane for waterway rice transport
Farmers in Thanh An commune in southern Can Tho City harvest the winter-spring rice crop in March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tran
The Ministry of Industry and Trade wants a green lane in waterways for rice transport since 95 percent of the grain in the Mekong Delta is transported by water.

The delta is Vietnam’s rice bowl. It said difficulty in harvesting and transporting paddy in the south amid Covid-19 outbreaks and social distancing, which have affected transport, has affected both domestic sales and exports.

Traders find it difficult to buy paddy and transport it to processing mills and then to ports.

Higher freights also make them reluctant to export.

According to the Vietnam Food Association, the difficulty in distribution has led to large inventories and funds being locked up, another reason for traders not buying rice.

This poses a risk of Vietnam losing its traditional export markets like the Philippines, China and Malaysia to regional competitors Thailand and India.

Paddy prices in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s rice hub, fell to VND4,700 ($0.21) per kilogram on August 5 from VND6,200 on May 1.

For the green lane the ministry has put forth two plans.

Under one, it wants local authorities to accept Covid-19 rapid test results from traders to enable them to buy paddy directly from the field and workers loading the grain on barges and ships.

The green lane will facilitate transport of paddy to drying mills.

Under the other plan, traders will provide test kits to officials manning waterway checkpoints for conducting rapid tests.

The ministry also wants banks to lower interest rates for rice traders and exporters, and allow them to use the rice as collateral for loans.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the Mekong Delta, where 1.5 million hectares were planted with summer-autumn rice, over 700,000 hectares have been harvested, and the task would be completed by late August or early September with the paddy output topping eight million tons.

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