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Rice Article: Vietnam  

Farmers voice concern over rising fertiliser prices as crops lay waiting
Vietnam News, June 28, 2004

Lam Thao Fertiliser Company is striving to supply more than 300,000 tonnes of fertilisers to the market in the first stage of this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Hoa

TIEN GIANG — While most Vietnamese farmers believe that the key to farming is water, followed by fertiliser, many are starting to rethink the old maxim.

"Most important, fertiliser; second, water," said Tran Van Hanh, referring to the recent climb in fertiliser prices.

Hanh, who comes from three generations of farmers, said that water supply is no longer a problem because the State has helped farmers upgrade their irrigation systems in recent years. However, the State has not succeeded in controlling the fertiliser market, causing price fluctuations and difficulties for farmers.

Farmers in the southern province of Tien Giang said that now the summer-autumn rice crop was in dire need of fertiliser, and their complaint was echoed throughout the country.

Farmer Nguyen Van Phuoc said he could not profit from growing rice because he already had to pay for hired labourers. "With increased fertiliser prices, I do not know what will happen," said Phuoc.

Though farmer Tran Van Ung said he had earned more than VND5 million in profits after harvesting early his summer-autumn crop, he is anxious about his main summer-autumn crop, as the price of fertiliser keeps rising.

Agronomists believe the increased area of summer-winter rice seedlings contributed to the rocketing price of fertiliser. In Tien Giang Province, more than 72,800ha of summer-autumn rice seedlings have been transplanted, an increase of 21 per cent compared with the proposed plan.

Old vessels are prohibited from transporting fertiliser off-shore, and the International Navigation Association has raised transport freight, also contributing to rising prices.

After a slight drop last week, the price of fertiliser has begun to climb again. One kilogram of urea fertiliser sells for VND3,300, and the same amount of Indonesian DAP ranges from VND4,700 to VND4,800.

However, agronomists said that false fever for fertiliser should not happen because plenty of it remained in-stock.

They argued that the Phu My urea fertiliser plant has produced the first batch of urea fertiliser, and it could help regulate the fertiliser market. The Ministry of Trade is also asking the Government to allow more enterprises to import fertiliser, in an attempt to meet the market’s demand for the product.

In regard to rice price, Phan Anh Dung, deputy director of Tien Giang Foodstuff Company, said the high price would continue at VND2,100 per kg during the main summer-autumn crop, as many countries were still demanding imported rice.

Tien Giang Agriculture and Rural Development Department’s Economy and Technique Office said that if the current price of rice was maintained, farmers could make profit regardless of the increased fertiliser price. — VNS

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