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Rice surplus predicted

C AMBODIA expects to become self-sufficient in rice next year and might even produce a small surplus after the best harvest in years, an agricultural expert said.

Harry Nesbitt, manager for the International Rice Research Institute's (IRRI) Cambodia project, also believed Cambodia would remain self-sufficient in the years ahead.

"I'm very optimistic. Last year there was only one province which was self-sufficient but this year I think you will get a surplus from most provinces," Nesbitt said.

"Compared to last year it's terrific," he said, referring to the droughts and flood which caused at least a 90,000 tonne shortfall.

Although two northwestern provinces were affected by floods this year, a surplus was still expected once losses were offset against the total. Nesbitt said that good weather and new technology had brought positive results.

Nesbitt said the Agriculture Ministry was forecasting a surplus of 289,000 tonnes of paddy, which would yield about 180,000 tonnes of rice against a total crop of three million tonnes. Nesbitt said the figure was a rosy estimate, and reckoned any surplus would be around 50,000 tonnes.

"I wouldn't predict a large surplus but the feeling with meteorologists that for the next five or six years it should be pretty good," he said.

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