Public-private partnership in developing rice value chain was the focus of discussion at a Southeast Asia forum on the future of rice held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 14-16.

Rice is a staple food in Southeast Asia, which produces 25 percent of the global rice output, with Thailand and Vietnam accounting for half of the world-wide rice export. However, their rice value chains are facing a number of difficulties.

In Vietnam, farmers are yet to get rich from rice.

Ma Quang Trung, head of the Department of Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), pointed to flaws in the rice production sector, including small-scale farming, inconsistent rice quality, and limited adoption of post-harvest and processing technologies.

In particular, Vietnam is one of the 10 countries hardest hit by climate change, global warming and severe weather patterns, which is taking its toll on rice production and consumption, he added.

Bas Bourman, Director of the Global Rice Science Partnership from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said despite the annual increase in volume of rice shipments from Vietnam, the value of export has not seen corresponding growth.

Farmers still have low income, which prevents them from investing in techniques, seeds and other technologies which can help raise productivity and their livelihoods.

In addition, small-scale farming also pushes production costs higher, he said.

Several rice value chains are currently piloted in An Giang, Can Tho, Long An and Ben Tre, bringing farmers a 40 percent rise in revenue.

Experts in the field said public-private partnership can help facilitate the application of new farming technology and promote large-scale production, thus improving rice yield and quality. This will raise the added value and the competitiveness of Vietnamese rice on the world market.

The forum was co-hosted by the IRRI, the MARD and Bayer Vietnam company, attracting more than 100 policymakers and rice experts.

Source: VNA