HANOI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Vietnam plans to stockpile rice purchased from domestic farmers in a bid to help growers affected by strict coronavirus movement curbs and low export prices offload their harvest, state media reported on Tuesday.
The move, which is subject to approval by Vietnam's prime minister, should encourage farmers to continue rice production into the next harvest, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported, citing deputy agriculture minister Tran Thanh Nam.
Nam did not say how much rice the government planned to buy for the temporary stockpiling. Paddy output from the ongoing summer-autumn harvest is forecast to be 9.04 million tonnes, up 1.35% from last year. "Farmers are finding it hard to sell their newly harvested rice because many exporters and middle traders are unable to make their purchases due to the coronavirus movement curbs," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Traders said low export rice prices had also discouraged them to sign new export contracts.
Several provinces in southern Vietnam, including in the Mekong Delta rice bowl, have since last month imposed strict movements to tackle the country's worst COVID-19 outbreak yet.
The current wave has led to over 160,000 infections and 1,800 deaths since it began in late April.
Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> prices slipped to $390 per tonne last Thursday - their lowest since February 2020 - from a range of $395-$400 a week earlier.
The country's rice shipments in the first seven months of this year were estimated to have dropped 10.6% from a year earlier to 3.6 million tonnes.
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