Rice Exports Drop Amid Calls for Intervention

Rice exports fell almost 6 percent during the first half of the year, to 268,190 tons, according to government figures—despite the industry’s repeated calls for help to prevent such a decline.

Exports have plunged since March, with four straight months of double-digit contractions compared to the prior year, said Hean Vanhan, deputy director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s general directorate of agriculture.

“We have seen many complaints from millers and others about a lack of rice to export,” Mr. Vanhan said. “If there are not urgent and effective responses, total rice exports for the year could come in at less than half a million tons.”

That total would fall far short of the government’s goal to boost rice exports to 1 million tons a year, though this year’s severe drought has hit all crops hard.

Mr. Vanhan said a $20 million to $30 million low-interest loan from the government—announced late last month and intended primarily to help millers buy unthreshed rice—could make a difference.

“Just giving money would not be effective,” he added, however, as the money needed to be directed to the right people in the right way.

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