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PM calls for more rice reforms

Cambodia's rice farmers must form economies of scale and the government exporting process must be simplified to help the Kingdom meet its milled-rice export goal, Prime Minister Hun Sen told government officials and business people at a forum yesterday.

During his speech at the 16th Government-Private Sector Forum at the Council of Ministers, Hun Sen urged ministers to open a “one-stop window” to streamline the export process while also calling for the creation of a rice exporter’s association.  

“It is necessary for us to establish a single window for the export of milled rice,” he said, adding that a major importer from Japan had expressed concern about the time and difficulty required to gain exportation clearance.

A rice exporters’ association, coupled with co-operation between farmers, millers and exporters, would bring stability to the market as well, Hun Sen said. Individual growing, milling and exporting of rice would fail to respond to the large orders of rice Cambodia hoped to see in the next two years, he said.

But LORAN Import-Export Co chief executive and president Lim Bunheng said yesterday there was a Cambodian Rice Export Association, for which he serves as president.

The association was not widely known yet, he said, as it had existed for only about a year and had gained recognition from the Ministry of Commerce only three months ago.

The Prime Minister’s hopes for the rice sector are shared by many in the industry. Yang Siang Koma, president of agriculture NGO CEDAC, said yesterday fostering co-operation among farmers was a primary goal.

Although co-operation was possible, it had no historical basis among Cambodia’s rice farmers, he said.

“Our farmers do not specialise in producing rice for the market. They only know subsistence farming,” Yang Siang Koma said.

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