Three executives of a state-owned food trading company have been suspended for sending mouldy rice as food aid to farmers in drought-stricken central Vietnam, an official said Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Hoang Trang Thanh, director of Food Enterprise in Ninh Thuan province, an affiliate of Southern Food Corp., was suspended for three months starting Friday along with two staff members, said the Southern Food official who identified himself only as Chuc.

The provincial government in January said it would provide 1,000 tonnes of rice as food aid to farmers in two districts hit by a severe drought, he said.

The first 500 tonnes of rice distributed to the farmers in January was of good quality, but 230 tonnes provided in April was mouldy because it was not stored properly, Chuc said.

"It's their mistake not to check the quality of the rice before giving it to the farmers," he said.

The incident was extensively covered in the state-controlled media.