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Country Briefs

  Viet Nam

Reference Date: 05-July-2016


  1. Main 2016 winter/spring paddy output down due to drought and salt water intrusion

  2. Rice exports forecast to decline in 2016

  3. Domestic prices of rice decreased in May

Main 2016 winter/spring paddy output down due to drought and salinity intrusion

Harvesting of the 2016, mostly irrigated, main winter/spring paddy crop, which accounts for about 45 percent of annual production, is complete. Low irrigation water availabilities, following a generally weak rainy season in 2015 associated with El Niño and resulting in intensified salt water intrusion, have negatively impacted the main season crop. The Mekong River Delta, which accounts for half of the winter/spring output, recorded the highest losses, with official reports indicating that production in the Delta declining by 1.1 million tonnes year-on-year to 10 million tonnes (paddy basis). The most affected provinces include Kien Giang, Tra Vinh and Long An. Meanwhile, planting progress of the summer/autumn rice crop, which accounts for about 30 percent of the annual production, is somewhat behind normal due to earlier dry conditions, although rains improved over large parts of the country since late May, providing relief to the drought‑affected areas. Assuming that winter/spring losses will be partly offset by higher output from the summer/autumn and winter harvests, FAO forecasts the 2016 aggregate paddy production at 44.5 million tonnes, 2 percent down from the 2015 record.

Planting of the 2016 maize crop is underway. FAO forecasts the 2016 maize output at 5.1 million tonnes, down 3 percent from 2015, due to a slight area reduction and lower yields expected, following earlier dry conditions.

Although the 2015/16 El Niño episode has dissipated, atmospheric conditions now point to a likely occurrence of a La Niña episode towards the end of 2016 (a 75 percent likelihood during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn and winter), which would correspond with the planting period of the 2017 main winter/spring crop. Some forecasts, however, indicate that La Niña may occur earlier in the July‑September 2016 period. If an early onset transpires, which is historically associated with heavier rainfall, this could benefit crop development of the summer/autumn and winter season crops, although excessive rains could also raise the potential for flooding.

Rice exports forecast to decline in 2016

FAO forecasts rice exports in calendar year 2016 to decline somewhat, due to a combination of tighter export availabilities and reduced demand. Cereal imports consist mostly of wheat and maize. During the 2015/16 marketing year (July/June), wheat imports are forecast to increase by 27 percent to 2.9 million tonnes, reflecting higher domestic demand for both high quality wheat for milling, and low quality wheat for animal feeding. Similarly, maize imports are set to increase strongly by 32 percent from the previous year, to 7.5 million tonnes, reflecting increased demand from the feed industry.

Domestic prices of rice decreased in May

Wholesale prices of rice, the main staple food, declined in May, amid low demand and improved supplies from the 2016 winter/spring crop. However, drought‑related crop losses limited the decline in prices, which remained around 8 percent higher than in May last year.

Large numbers of subsistence farming households affected by drought and salt water

Although the 2016 paddy production will exceed domestic requirements at national level, as the country is a net exporter of rice, in some areas of the Mekong Delta, Central Highlands and South Central regions that sustained serious crop losses, there are pockets where people may face food shortages in the coming months. In view of adequate availabilities of rice and other crops, and generally well‑functioning domestic markets within Viet Nam, it is recommended that any food assistance to affected areas be provided in the form of cash and/or vouchers. According to a joint UN/Government/NGOs assessment, conducted in March, around 2 million people have been negatively affected by the prolonged drought.