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Pilot project to produce organic rice

A PILOT project for growing organic rice has been launched in Battambang, with the aim of helping farmers take advantage of the grain’s low production costs.

The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture is cooperating with 60 farmers in the Banan district of Battambang province to produce organic Jasmine and Phka Khnhey rice for export.

CEDAC president Yang Saing Koma said yesterday that the project, which takes up 90 hectares of land, was primarily focused on increasing profit margins.

“This rice growing cooperation aims to help communities increase their income through selling paddy for a suitably higher price while also reducing production costs,” he said.

CEDAC says growing organic rice will help to cut costs by using up to 60 percent less seed and saving on chemical fertilisers and poisons.

Yang Saing Koma said farmers in Banan district and other parts of Battambang liked to produce rice using a method that required significant amounts of seed and chemicals to purge unwanted grass.

“We will continue to expand the plan to grow organic rice in this province in the future if this pilot project is successful,” he said, and the plan is to eventually expand cultivation to 1,000 hectares or more.

Ngin Chhay, director of the Department of Rice Crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said he supported the project, as organic rice sold for around 15 to 20 percent more than simple rice and was in demand in Europe and the United States.

His only concern was that the project would struggle with the amount of organic fertiliser needed, which according to his department was roughly between five and 10 tonnes to one hectare of rice.

“I think that the plan to expand the growing of this rice on such a huge land area is difficult, because this kind of rice needs a lot of organic fertiliser to help it yield well,” he said.

Last year, CEDAC exported 32 tonnes of organic Jasmine rice.

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