THE Cambodian Rice Millers Association plans to import a machine from South Korea that would enable farmers to sort rice by grade and, consequently, sell it for higher prices.
Association head Phou Puy said the machine, to be purchased next month and sent to Battambang province, would cost more than US$100,000.
"We have seen that our rice output is increasing each year, but we still don't have the machine to classify the grade of milled rice," he said. "Once we have the machine, it will be easier to access export markets."
Last year, Cambodia produced more than 7 million tonnes of rice on approximately 2.4 million hectares of land. There was a surplus of more than 2 million tonnes of rice intended for export.
Phou Puy said the absence of a sorting machine in Cambodia was one factor driving down the price of Cambodian rice on export markets, which tends to be lower than the prices paid for rice from Vietnam and Thailand.
Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), said farmers presently looking to sort their rice by grade must do so by hand.
Phou Puy said the sorting machine would be able to process "thousands of tonnes" of rice per day.
Yang Saing Koma seconded the view that sorted rice would fetch higher prices on export markets.
"It is necessary for us to import the machine if we want to export milled rice to rich or European countries, which require high-quality milled rice," he said.
A commodities report dated June 19 priced higher quality Grade-1 milled rice at 60 US cents per kilogram, while Grade-2 milled rice was priced at 50 cents per kilo.