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Rice production on the rise

Nation produced 7.58m tonnes last year, 5.7pc more than 2008-09, govt reports

CAMBODIA produced 7.58 million tonnes of paddy during the 2009-10 farm year, an increase of 5.7 percent over last year, according to formal statistics released Tuesday by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The Kingdom grew 2.33 million hectares of rice, yielding 6 million tonnes of paddy in the wet season, and 380,000 hectares for 1.58 million tonnes of paddy in the dry season, according to the figures.

The Ministry of Agriculture said Cambodia could have 3.5 million tonnes of paddy left over for export, a 10.75 percent rise on the 3.16 million tonnes left over last year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the closing of an annual agriculture conference Tuesday that the year’s success in paddy output helped ensure food security and lessen the impact of the global economic crisis.

“We will continue to promote productivity of the agricultural sector to reach its top potential to enlarge ... economic growth,” Hun Sen said.

Cambodia plans to raise yields to as much as 3 tonnes per hectare by 2012 to increase exports of processed rice to international markets.

The Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday that Cambodia could have as much as 2.24 million tonnes of rice for export, after farmers brought in 2.83 tonnes of paddy per hectare this year.

Meas Sopheavy, head of the statistics office at the ministry, said Cambodia will be able to raise paddy production in coming years by making farmers modify growing techniques and use pure seeds.

“Under these measures, we hope Cambodian farmers will be able to harvest higher paddy yields in the coming years and will be able to meet the demands of both local use and export,” Meas Sopheavy said.

In the farming year 2008-09, Cambodia grew 2.61 hectares of rice, an average paddy yield of only 2.74 tonnes per hectare.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said farmers can increase both paddy production and sale price.

“When paddy price is increasing like this, we hope that farmers will take this opportunity to produce more rice, if in the future the government can get enough expansion of irrigation systems for them,” he said.

The Supreme National Economic Council said last month that Cambodia could produce as much as 15 million tonnes of rice paddy, leaving 8 million tonnes for export.

Economic analysts say the Kingdom’s farmers can improve their livelihoods if the country can further penetrate the competitive international marketplace.

However, rice millers and other industry insiders say the quality of processed rice remains low, keeping Cambodia out of a market that has proved lucrative for neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand.

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