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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mills busy as new rice crop rolls in

Mills busy as new rice crop rolls in

Cambodia rice exports saw a small rebound in October, notching up 12 per cent as compared to a year earlier, as harvests from the delayed rainy-season planting began to reach the nation’s rice mills.

Rice shipments were at 39,000 tonnes in October, up from the 35,400 tonnes exported in 2014, bringing to an end a year-on-year drop in rice exports for the previous two months, according to figures from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.

“This is the new-season crop and we are getting some of this new crop now,” said Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the country’s biggest rice exporters.

According to Saran, the fragrant rice crop was harvested last month and the premium jasmine rice crop is expected in November, which will give the export numbers a further boost.

For the first 10 months of the year, Cambodia shipped out around 410,000 tonnes of rice, up 34 per cent year-on-year, largely due to the completion of a Chinese rice quota earlier in the year.

Saran said that given this trend, and the recently renewed Chinese rice quota, exports for the year should reach the half-million tonne mark.

“This is a good trend for fragrant rice, where China and Malaysia are big consumers,” he said. “The frequent contribution of rice exports to China is encouraging.”

Cambodian rice exporters, he said, are now waiting for the first order from China, which will materialise in January next year.

The government in 2010 set a target of shipping 1 million tonnes of milled rice a year by 2015, but will not reach that target, given the lack of investment in warehousing facilities and high electricity and transportation costs.

Kann Kunthy, CEO of milling facility Battambang Rice Investment Co, said the sector would be happy to see exports reach half a million tonnes this year.

The new Chinese rice quota would increase the pressure on millers in the country, but Kunthy said the key obstacle was access to capital to buy paddy, and not milling and storage facilities, which were sufficient to handle the increased export demand.

“The milling capacity is more than enough to mill 1 million tonnes,” he said. “The question is about access to finance, especially during the harvest period.”

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