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Rice output increases even despite heavy floods

Despite the worst floods in a decade, rice production in 2011 could surpass that of last year, the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries [MAFF] claimed.

During the opening of the Kamchay dam in Kampot province Wednesday, Minister Chan Sarun said rice output this year would be similar to or higher than last year’s harvest.

Floods that started in early September wiped out 10 per cent of the Kingdom’s rice crop, or 220,000 hectares of rice paddy, Hun Sen said during a recent speech. Still, increased yield could supplement the lost crop.

“[The rice] was destroyed and it is still at least equal to last year’s,” Hun Sen said during the opening of the Kamchay dam, adding that the news should instill confidence in the country’s goal of exporting one million tonnes of milled rice by 2015.

Experts and the World Bank have been critical of the goal, saying exports of milled rice could remain at 250,000 tonnes until milling capacity is boosted and logistical bottleneck resolved.

Rice output in Kampong Cham, Kratie, and Stung Treng provinces increased from 2.6 tonnes per hectare last year to 2.9 tonnes per hectare this year, MAFF’s director of rice cultivation Ngin Chhay said.

“We did a common survey and found that rice that was not flooded grew better than last year’s. So we hope that rice outputs will increase,” he said.

Official figures for 2011’s rice production, however, will not be issued until the end of December.

Lim Bun Heng,  president of the Rice Export Association and general director of rice export firm Lonran Co, confirmed that floods had not prevented 2011’s rice yields from increasing on last year’s crop, reporting increased productivity in unflooded areas of the country.

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