According to the Export-Import Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), the current demand for imported cassava and cassava starch is increasing in the Chinese market – the largest market of Vietnam’s cassava.

Besides ethanol production, China has increased the import of sliced cassava and starch as animal feed, especially when the price of animal feed goes up because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Currently, more than 95% of Vietnam’s cassava starch is exported to the Chinese market. However, more than 65% of export output is under the form of a quota, delivered through border gates in Lang Son, Quang Ninh, and Lao Cai.

Due to high demand, since the end of March, the price of sliced cassava tends to rise again in most provinces. The price of cassava starch increased from 100 – 200 VND/kg. In the first three months of this year, the export of cassava and cassava products is estimated at 970,000 tonnes, worth 420 million USD. The figure is down 0.6% in volume but up nearly 16% in value compared to the same period last year.

Farmers improve their income by the rising price of cassava

Vietnam’s market share of cassava starch now accounts for nearly 26% of China’s total imports. To meet the market demand, the country has over 500 thousand hectares. In particular, the Central Highlands leads with more than 170 thousand hectares.

In recent times, despite the increase in the cost of fertilizer and the complicated disease caused by the virus on cassava plants, the increasing price of cassava at this time is a good signal for many cassava growers.

The purchase price of cassava in the market is high, which has helped many households in remote areas of the Central Highlands to have a stable income.

The purchase price of cassava in the market is at a high level. (Photo: VNA)

The Central Highland has growing areas of cassava concentrated in Gia Lai, Dak Lak, and Kon Tum provinces. In particular, Gia Lai is the leading of the country with an area of more than 80 thousand hectares. However, most cassava plants are cultivated in remote areas, having high terrain and difficult transportation, so the cost of materials and transportation is very high.

“Cost of one hectare is 35 million VND, excluding land rent. The selling price is about 55 million VND on average, farmers can earn about 20 million VND per hectare. The Central Highlands is the largest area in the country but there are only 20 factories. This is a problem even for businesses and farmers, “said Mr. Luu Trung Nghia – Director of the Gia Lai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The agricultural sector recommends that cassava growers should not expand the area, but focus on intensive farming and use strong cassava variety to sustainably develop this main crop.

Improving the quality of cassava for export

In 2021, Vietnam’s cassava export reached nearly 2.9 million tonnes, worth nearly 1.2 billion USD. Despite being a billion-dollar crop, in the past years, the development of cassava has not been sustainable, and the link between production and processing is limited.

Recently, in Gia Lai, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development organized a conference with key cassava-growing provinces, analyzing the overall situation of production and export, as well as proposing strategic solutions for sustainable development of this crop.

Currently, Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of cassava in the world after Thailand. The whole country has 120 industrial-scale cassava starch processing factories with a total capacity of 11.3 million tonnes of fresh cassava/year. However, in the past time, the raw material production areas have not been closely associated with the processing factories, causing inadequacies between the raw materials and factories.

Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong – Director of the Department of Crop Production, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said: “Our purpose is only developing cassava in the region has advantages, associated with processing factories. Besides, we will order high-quality seeds from research agencies. At the same time, the cultivation process should be issued to maximize production efficiency. “

Despite being a billion-dollar crop, the development of cassava is still not sustainable, and the link between production and processing is limited. (Photo: Minhhoaj)

The opportunity to develop the cassava sector is very large, both in the export and domestic markets because the domestic consumption of cassava and cassava products is only about 30%. Meanwhile, our country has to import quite a lot of materials for animal feed processing and the food processing industry.

“Our cassava starch guarantees the standard of export to Europe, according to FAO standards. To access the EU market, there are strict requirements about the origin and product quality, ”said Mr. Nghiem Minh Tien – Permanent Vice President of Vietnam Cassava Association.

Cassava is not only a poverty elimination tree but also helps people get rich, for example, in Tay Ninh province. Improving the value and quality of cassava by deep processing technology is the orientation of the agricultural sector in the sustainable development of this key crop.

Since the beginning of this year, China has become a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). So, non-standard export products of RCEP member markets will not only face market loss but also be at risk of affecting an entire manufacturing sector.

Therefore, the Ministry of Industry and Trade recommends that cassava exporters should move strongly to official export. On the other hand, it is necessary to review the planning of growing areas and reorganize the production to ensure that Vietnamese cassava products are clean, and meeting market criteria.