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Abstract

The Mekong Delta has long been a major producing area for Vietnamese rice. It now accounts for more than half of national production and accounted for most of the growth in that production over the past decade. While this has given the Mekong Delta the reputation as Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’—critical for national food security—virtually all of its incremental production (and now 70% of its output) has been channeled into exports. With Vietnam’s rice export trade mostly servicing the low price market segment, and with shortcomings in efficiency and coordination within the export supply chain, the surging export trade has not translated into wealth among Mekong Delta farmers. The paper examines the evolving dynamics in rice production and economics in the Mekong Delta, pertinent features of the structure and performance of the rice value chain, and the challenges and opportunities associated both with improving efficiencies and profitability for rice and with promoting a more balanced pattern of rural development within the region.

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