As the industrial and residential development process is occurring in many rice-growing provinces, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Mard) has proposed keeping at least 3.9 million hectares of rice fields.
According to Mard’s report to the government to evaluate the situation, challenges and solutions of food security in Vietnam, Vietnam had nearly 4.47 million hectares of rice fields in 2000. The area fell to 4.13 million hectares in 2006, a reduction of 316,000ha, or 50,000ha annually.
Rice fields have been used for non-agricultural purposes, especially for building industrial zones and golf courses.
Though rice output grew 2.06% on average from 1997-2006, equivalent to 770,000 tonnes per year, from 2003-2007 Vietnam’s rice output remained at 36 million tonnes per year.
Around 75-80% of this output is for the local market while the need for rice of Vietnam is estimated to rise 1% per year till the country’s population reaches 120 million in 2035.
Basically, Vietnam’s food security is ensured but the country must keep at least 3.9 million hectares of rice fields.
In a recent conference, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong warned that without strict control, rice area will fall very dramatically and threaten the country’s food security strategy. Other dangers are climate change and a lack of agricultural labourers.
Mard asked the government to ratify its project to develop rice production to ensure national food security to 2015-2020 and to establish the National Food Security Committee led by a deputy minister to guide the implementation of the rice strategy.