Vietnam slightly lowered on Thursday its rice export forecast for this year to more than 7 million tonnes from an initial projection of up to 7.5 million tonnes, but said floods did not affect production.
The projection reflects slowing sales in recent weeks as buyers stand back to assess flood damages in top exporter Thailand, where prices have been rising also due to a government buying scheme, or to seek cheaper grain in India and Pakistan.
“In this year 2011 despite heavy natural calamities, we do hope that rice exports in Vietnam could for the first time jump to above 7 million tonnes,” deputy Agriculture minister Bui Ba Bong told a rice conference in HCM City.
Earlier this month, the agriculture ministry had projected the world’s second-largest exporter to ship a record of 7.5 million tonnes.
Waters, which have risen to the highest level since 2000, submerged more than 20,000 hectares (49,420 acres) of rice in the Mekong Delta food basket and destroyed some 7,000 hectares, or 1 percent, of the area planted for a minor crop, government data showed.
Flooding also prevents the operation of rice mills and raises production costs.
Despite the floods, Vietnam’s paddy output is expected to rise to 41 million tonnes this year from 40 million tonnes in 2010, Bong told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.
Paddy rose to between 7.5 million and 7.8 million dong ($359-$373) per tonne in the Delta on Thursday, from 6.8-7.5 million dong a week ago.