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New markets on agenda of World Rice Conference

The second Cambodia Rice Festival was held yesterday in Phnom Penh aiming to promote the Kingdom’s rice sector to international buyers.

The rice festival was held on the eve of the sixth World Rice Conference, which started today at the Sofitel hotel.

Up to 600 local and foreign sellers, buyers, millers, exporters and farmers from up to 40 countries including rice-producing nations such as Thailand, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Myanmar are expected to attend the two-day event.

“Today’s rice forum will play a very important role in helping local and international participants to clearly understand the profiles and quality of Cambodia’s rice sector,” said Sok Puthyvuth, president of Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) at yesterday’s the opening.

“But in order to promote our exports we first need to iron out some challenges such as quality seeds, technique, logistics, financing, warehousing and markets.”

Opening up new export markets to meet the government’s rice export goal of one million tonnes per year was critical to the industry’s success, Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol said yesterday.

“We have been trying to seek more markets for our milled rice,” Chanthol said, citing the Chinese government’s July pledge to import 100,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice per year.

“I will [also] travel to Kuwait and other countries next week to open the new markets in the Middle East. We will also seek more markets besides the EU, such as Africa,” Chanthol went on to say.

Cambodia exported 269,000 tonnes of milled rice to 57 countries during the first nine months of this year, up just 1.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.

About 80 per cent of the Kingdom’s rice is sent to European nations under the EU’s Everything But Arms duty-free arrangement.

“Of course, we do thank the EU for giving us more ability to export more and more,” Chanthol said.

“But, we need to expand our markets even more – we cannot put all our eggs in one basket. We need to seek markets other than Europe in order to promote our exports and lift our milled-rice prices and subsequently the living standards of our farmers.”

The World’s Best Rice awards, of which Cambodia is the reigning winner, will be decided as part of the World Rice Conference on Thursday.

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