With more than 50% of Vietnam rice being sold on the export market, improving its quality is imperative for maintaining exports, as well as competing domestically with an increasing population of discriminating consumers.
The Vietnam government continues to be committed to improving rice quality, working with public breeding partners as well as buyers to develop better varieties and implement innovative technologies that bring value not only to the end buyers and end users, but to the farmer as well.
New high-yielding varieties capable of producing the appearance and cooking properties desired by important foreign and domestic buyers are needed, said Dang Quang Vinh, a researcher at the Central Institute for Economic Management.
Mr Vinh noted the rice currently produced in Vietnam is not competitive in some markets such as those in Central America that prefer parboiled rice, which possesses superior cooking and processing properties.
Quality improvements could also be achieved by developing semi-dwarf varieties that possess better milling traits and better long-grains offering excellent blast resistance and good grain quality with yield potential that rivals the highest-yielding cultivars currently produced anywhere.
In addition, Mr Vinh suggested that rice farmers consider the use of bubble dryers to improve the quality of local rice.
The post-harvest loss rate currently stands at 13.7%, which is too high and much greater than that of Thailand at 6.1% and India at 6%, said Mr Vinh, noting that a sizable portion of the loss results from poor drying techniques.
He said bubble dryer technology, powered by solar energy prevents contamination, aflatoxin in maize, reduces cost and enhances profit.
He made the comments at a training workshop in Hanoi, adding that the bubble dryer, is ‘green dryer’ technology that uses solar radiation to power a system to blow hot air to dry rice.
It is said to reduce moisture levels in rice from 22% to between 12 and 13% in as little as 24 hours.
Mr Vinh lamented that though new farming technologies were in existence, Vietnamese farmers underutilize them and said it was time they welcomed innovation for growth in the segment.
He said the bubble dryer is proven technology that is currently in use by smallholder farmers and farmer groups around the globe and urged local farmers to take advantage of the technology.
Dang Kim Son, former director general of Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development in turn said the focus should be to help increase earnings for smallholder farmers.
He also hinted at plans to offer technical training for actors in the rice value chain saying that without trained farmers, the country could not achieve food security. He underscored the need for regular capacity building for farmers.
Vietnamese farmers need to learn and use new farming techniques. They must know about seed quality, types of soil and chemical application not only dropping the seed in the soil.