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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia's rice output tipped to fall: FAO

Cambodia's rice output tipped to fall: FAO

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Workers bag milled rice at a business in downtown Phnom Penh last week. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

The United Nations‘ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicts the paddy output in Cambodia this year will decline, according to its Rice Market Monitor (RMM) issued on Monday.

Paddy output in Asia is forecast at 661 million tonnes, or 441 million tonnes on a milled basis, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared with 2011.

According to Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association (COrAA) adviser Winfried Scheewe, many regions of Cambodia and Thailand experienced a late onset of the monsoon rains.

“Consequently, farmers had difficulties establishing seed beds or transplanting rice,” Scheewe said. “Many farmers also lost their seedlings to drought, so the area cultivated with rice is significantly lower than last year.”

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the paddy production in Cambodia this year might not be different from last year.

“We need also [to] wait to see the trend of production in the dry season in the flood recession area, which starts from November onwards,” he said. “Last year, it was more a problem with flood; this year it is more a problem with prolonged drought.”

Cambodia aims to export one million tonnes of milled rice by 2015.

Concerning this aim, “It is not a problem of production,” Yang Saing Koma said. “More the problem of our capacity to have sufficient capital to procure paddy and to export milled at competitive prices.

“It is very important that we need to export milled rice instead of paddy as exporting milled rice will [see] more value added, leave behind raw materials for farmers (rice husks, rice bran and broken rice) and create more employment for local people.”  

COrAA program co-ordinator Phallyboth Chhim said that despite the lower production,  prices were significantly lower than last year.

“Currently, traders in Takeo province  offer 1,250 riel for fragrant rice, whereas last year farmers received 1,500 riel per kilogram,” he said.  

In its November RMM, the FAO raised the July RMM forecast of global paddy production to 729 million tonnes, an increase of 4.2 million tonnes, or to 486 million tonnes on milled basis.

Global rice production in 2012 is predicted to outpace rice consumption in 2012/2013, leading to a five million tonnes upward revision in global rice stocks in 2013, according to the RMM.

Global rice carryover stocks are now expected to rise by seven per cent, or 10 million tonnes, compared to last year, reaching a new high of almost 170 million tonnes after eight successive years of stock accumulation, the RMM says.

Chhong Sophal, program co-ordinator at Farmer and Nature Net, said Cambodia had a yearly two- to three-million-tonne rice surplus, but that could vary, depending on weather conditions.

The FAO predicts global rice trade in 2013 to reach 37.5 million tonnes, compared with the 2012 estimate of 37.3 million tonnes.

The FAO’s RMM presents an analysis of the most recent developments in the global rice market.  

To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at anne.renzenbrink@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Nhem Rithy

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