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Group announces first milled-rice exports

THE Cambodian Rice Millers Association (CRMA) has announced its first successful export sale of high-quality local rice.

CRMA said it will deliver 200 tonnes of Grade-One jasmine rice to Hong Kong in September, a further 200 tonnes in October, and another 1,000 tonnes in December in the US$1.1 million deal.

CRMA President Phou Puy added that companies from Germany, the Philippines and Brunei are currently negotiating to buy hundreds of thousands of tonnes of milled fragrant rice next year.

The Hong Kong deal, to an unnamed company, comes on the heels of CRMA's July purchase of 4,000 tonnes of unmilled Malis rice from farmers in Battambang's Bai Tong commune for domestic demand and exports. And it follows CRMA's $7 million purchase last year of Taiwanese rice-drying machines and modern packaging materials from Japan.

"We no longer face obstacles in exporting high-quality rice because we have a drying machine, mills and the latest packaging materials," Phou Puy said. "We will buy 40,000 tonnes of unmilled Malis rice from farmers between October and December to support our exports in 2010."

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said news of the exports was a boon to the nation's farmers, who could switch focus from low-quality to high-quality rice strains that earn more money.

The statistics department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Monday that Cambodia would harvest an extra 100,000 tonnes of rice this year provided it is not hit by drought or flood.

The Kingdom has 2.6 million hectares of land under rice cultivation producing 7.1 million tonnes of rice. Last year Cambodia exported 3.1 million tonnes of rice.

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