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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Industry casts doubt on meeting Philippine rice bid

Industry casts doubt on meeting Philippine rice bid

Cambodian rice exporters expressed doubt yesterday regarding the industry’s ability to meet the technical terms and conditions laid out in the Philippine government’s rice import bid.

The Philippines’ National Food Authority (NFA) in August set up a bidding process, open to all countries, for the import of 500,000 tonnes of rice to the country.

However, all bets were rejected as no single country was able to meet the price targets set by the NFA.

The authority has since reopened the bidding, keen to replenish rice stocks after severe weather caused damage to local crops and drove up domestic prices.

David Van, executive director of rice miller and exporter Boost Riche Cambodia, said yesterday that the Philippines’ bid required a country to contribute a minimum of 200,000 tonnes to be delivered across 14 ports in the Philippines. This, he said, made both production and logistics management a tough ask for Cambodia’s rice growers and exporters.

“Considering the complicated and stringent technical terms and conditions required by the Filipino Government as described in the tender documents, only big league exporters can comply with that, and none of the Cambodian exporters are even close to that technical level and expertise,” Van said in an email yesterday.

“We are barely learning to walk slowly and firmly on both feet and cannot pretend yet to enroll in a professional marathon running,” he added.

Song Saran, chief executive officer of rice exporter Amru Rice Cambodia, told the Post yesterday that a lack of rice paddy already in stock made it difficult for Cambodia to compete with the likes of rice-producing giant Vietnam.

“Our price is controlled by Vietnam because they have a big stock of paddy,” he said, referring to the offer Cambodia might be able to submit.

“If we had enough paddy stock in hand, we might have more ability to bid, but the problem is we don’t have it,” he added.

Sok Puthyvuth, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, acknowledged yesterday that there were challenges to overcome, but said the country would still go after a piece of the NFA contract as it was a doorway into a new market.

“The requirements put up by the Philippines have many difficulties, which makes is very tough to export to there,” he said.

Puthyvuth said he would try to negotiate some concessions for Cambodia within the bidding process to deliver in areas that he thought the sector was capable of meeting.

According to rice industry news portal Oryza, the NFA will make the final offers public on September 15.

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