Vietnamese leaders have upheld a ban against turning rice farms into industrial parks or other commercial sites, a move certain to slow the pace of much needed foreign investment.
Deputy Prime Minister Phan Van Khai defended the government’s month-old ruling against taking rice paddies out of production as essential to protecting the country’s future food supplies.
The restrictions have already delayed several foreign investment projects, the state-run Vietnam Investment Review reported Saturday.
Vietnam’s rice farms, which now cover 10.6 million acres, have been shrinking at an annual rate of 49,000 acres as the land is converted to other uses. Land outside big cities is especially sought by foreign investors for factories and real estate projects.
Khai, speaking to the National Assembly, warned that Vietnam risked rice shortages by the end of the decade if more crop lands were converted to such uses, the review reported.
Rice is Vietnam’s food staple, and the country ranked as the world’s third biggest exporter of rice last year.
Khai urged investors to look for other sites.