Phnom Penh Autonomous Port plans to buy a rice-polishing machine from China, and will also look to build a rice storage facility in Kandal province.
These moves, officials said, were intended to push along Cambodia’s rice trade during a period of uncertainty for the industry.
“Actually, the project is not relevant to our port work, but we want to participate in improving our milled-rice quality, especially helping them to export more,” Hei Bavy, director-general of the port, said yesterday.
“We see the industry is still facing some problems in terms of exports – mainly on quality. So this machine is another effort to help them.
“We are close to finalising our discussions on the project. We hope it will take one or two more months.”
Hei Bavy declined to give a dollar figure for the two projects.
Experts have considered the quality of Cambodian rice as one of several barriers to increasing exports, which Prime Minister Hun Sen said will reach a million tonnes by 2015.
Facilities such as large-scale rice mills and polishing machines are inadequate in this country.
Experts have also noted that Cambodia lacks warehouses to store large quantities of rice before the product is shipped abroad.
The proposed warehouse would have a 10,000-tonne capacity, according to Hei Bavy.
Other obstacles facing Cambodia’s rice sector include the cost of milling rice, which have put the Kingdom’s rice prices above regional competitors such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Millers this year have reported a substantial drop in rice exports to Europe, which was Cambodia’s main buyer in 2011.
Logistic bottlenecks, as well as the increased price of shipping to Europe, will keep Cambodian rice prices high this year.
Cargo shipment via the port rose by 10.48 per cent in the first five months of the year to 31,093 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), up from 28,144 in the corresponding period last year, data from the port shows.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]