Rice straw, which is usually treated as waste and burned after each harvest in Vietnam, will become a valuable export product for the country next year.
A new agreement signed recently in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho allows the state-owned Song Hau Collective Farm to sell straw from the coming winter-spring crop to the Japan Beef Import Export Association for cow feed production.
Yutaka Aoyama, director of the Japanese association said that Japan needs to import around 220,000 tons of processed straw every year and nearly half of that used to come from China. But the country has stopped sourcing from China after detecting harmful bacteria in its straw, he said.
That makes Vietnam, one of the biggest rice producers in the world, a great alternative supplier. The new export deal is “a major opportunity” for farmers in the Mekong Delta to earn a better income. “Usually, farmers just burn or bury the straw after a harvest, which causes air pollution or organic contamination of the soil,” he said.
Phu said the Japanese association will provide equipment and training to help his collective farm process the straw properly before exporting. The agreement also discussed plans for the two partners to cooperate in raising milk cows in the Mekong Delta, with funding from the Japanese government.