A report by the International Trade Studies Center at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) says that in the next 10 years Thailand will continuously lose market share and competitiveness to Vietnam in ASEAN and other markets. One of the contributing factors to Vietnam rice production success is the implementation of the “Three Reductions, Three Gains” policy that was developed by scientists from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Visayas State University (VSU) and IRRI. News of the report was featured in Thai newspapers, The Nation and Bangkok Post.
Locally known as “Ba Giam Ba Tang”, the program was launched in March 2003 in Can Tho city. In 2006 the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Cao Duc Phat made “Ba Giam Ba Tang”, a national policy and provided support for its implementation in all provinces. The program was developed from the success of an earlier campaign to motivate farmers to stop early season insecticide use (no early spray or NES) which reduced farmers sprays by 53%. (Read: No early spray campaign). Ba Giam, Ba Tang incorporated NES together with guidelines to reduced seed and fertilizer rates and used multi media campaign materials like leaflets, posters, radio and TV to reach millions of farmers. The campaign successfully reduced famers’ insecticide use by 33%, their seed and fertilizer rates by 11% and 7%, respectively (Read: Motivating farmers with 3R3G).
Rapid adoption of Ba Giam Ba Tang followed after the campaign and in some provinces, like An Giang, adoption rate reached 70% in 3 year (Read: Adoption of 3R3G). Prior to the campaign MARD, VSU and IRRI scientists conducted farmer participatory evaluations and found that farms practicing 3 reductions have higher profits, averaging US$ 35 to US$58 per ha per season (Read: Farmer participatory evaluation). In addition the insecticide reduction reduced the farmers’ vulnerability to planthopper outbreaks and contributed to environmental conservation. MARD officials attributed the widespread adoption of 3 reductions to the Vietnam’s bumper crop in 2009 (Read: Vietnam’s bumper crop).
The report predicts that in 2020 Thailand’s rice export will drop by 14% to 8.6 million tons per annum while Vietnam’s export will increase by 25% to 7.5 million tons. There is concern that Thailand’s status as the number 1 rice exporter will be seriously threatened.