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Vietnamese Rice Exports Seen by UN Set to Remain Near Record

Rice exports from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest shipper of the grain, are set to remain near record levels this year, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said.

Shipments may be close to the all-time high of 7.7 million metric tons delivered in 2012, the Rome-based UN agency wrote in a country report on its website yesterday. As of mid-December, 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) were sown for the winter-spring paddy crop, compared with 875,300 hectares a year earlier, when growing areas experienced flooding, the FAO said. Planting for the winter-spring crop usually begins in November and runs until April.

“Favorable rains since November, particularly over large parts of the Mekong River Delta, a major rice-growing region in southern Vietnam, improved soil moisture and provided good conditions that allowed farmers to start plantings earlier than normal,” the FAO said. “Early indications for the 2012-13 winter-spring paddy crop point to an increase in plantings.”

Vietnam’s rice harvest probably will feel only “minimal” effect from landslides and flooding caused by typhoon rains in October that affected 27,786 hectares of the grain along the northeastern coast, according to the report.

Paddy-rice production for last year may total a record 43.7 million tons, up 3 percent from 2011, the FAO said. The nation’s corn harvest was pegged at 4.8 million tons, about 1 percent below the previous year’s record crop, according to the report.

Vietnam’s wheat imports in the 2012-13 marketing year begun July 1 may total 2.6 million tons and corn purchases may be 1.1 million tons, the FAO said.

“Total cereal imports are forecast to decrease slightly from the estimated level of 2011-12 but remain at a high level,” the UN agency said.

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