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Chinese firms eye $500m rice investment

Chinese food company Hainan Agpro Inc has announced its intentions to spend US$500 million in Cambodia’s agriculture sector, according to a National Assembly official.

Agpro managing director Jimmy Zheng and a delegation from the company met with National Assembly president Heng Samrin on Thursday to discuss the venture, Kaom Kosal, cabinet director for the National Assembly, said.

“He is eager to invest in rice farming, rice milling and warehousing in our country,” Kaom Kosal said. “They want to process high-quality milled rice to export as many as 1.5 million tonnes per year.”

Agpro plans to conduct feasibility studies in a number of provinces, including Koh Kong and Preak Vihear, according to Kaom Kosal. The $500 million investment, spread out over 10 years, is expected to comprise 60,000 hectares, he said.

Heng Samrin urged the company to begin operations as soon as possible, according to Kaom Kosal.

Lim Bun Heng, chairman of the Cambodian Food and Rice Export Association and president and CEO of Loran Import-Export Co Ltd, said that Cambodia could possibly export as much as 2 million tonnes of milled rice if Agpro followed through with its intended $500 million investment.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in August 2010 said Cambodia would export 1 million tonnes of milled rice a year by 2015. Cambodia had exported 149,000 tonnes of milled rice, worth $87.5 million, through November, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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