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Rice Exports Down

Cambodia officially exported 11,000 tonnes of rice in 1997 compared with 16,310

tonnes in 1996, Commerce officials said on Jan 20.

The totals for both years were short of targets and one official said Cambodia, which

has only recently begun exporting small quantities of rice after a gap of more than

two decades, was facing difficulties convincing traders of the quality.

"Over the last two years we have not reached our target of 120,000 tonnes of

exports because people don't know the quality of Cambodian rice," said the director

of the ministry's foreign trade department, Uy Sokharath. "People need some

time to discover the quality," he said.

He said authorities would set an export target for 1998 in April when the size of

the dry-season harvest will be known.

Commerce officials were unable to estimate the volume of the unofficial rice trade

along Cambodia's borders with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Cambodian rice exports reached an all-time high of 500,000 tonnes in 1964-65.

Despite problems with the weather brought on by the effect of the El Nino weather

pattern, Cambodia's wet season harvest should be 2.6 million tonnes, compared with

2.58 million tonnes last year, according to Ministry of Agriculture forecasts. Dry

season output this year is expected to be 625,000 tonnes, compared with 600,000 tonnes

last year. - Reuters

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