Cambodia exported more than 3.58 million tonnes of milled rice and paddy worth more than $1.26 billion in 2020, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.
Outbound shipments of milled rice accounted for 690,829 tonnes worth nearly $539 million last year, which represents an 11.40 per cent surge from 2019, he said.
The minister added that 76 Cambodian firms exported the milled rice to 60 international markets with China absorbing the largest share of 289,439 tonnes, equivalent to 41.90 per cent of the total.
The EU market took in 203,791 tonnes, (29.50 per cent) of Cambodian milled rice, six ASEAN countries imported 86,899 tonnes (12.58 per cent), while 29 other countries bought 110,700 tonnes (16.2 per cent), he said.
Meanwhile, Sakhon said, unofficial paddy exports in 2020 weighed in at 2,893,951 tonnes worth more than $723 million and were shipped to neighbouring countries, mainly Vietnam.
He added that total paddy and milled-rice supply to domestic and international markets last year clocked in at as much as $3.82 billion, underscoring the Kingdom’s untapped potential to meet overseas demand.
“We are proud of the achievements of this agricultural export. We believe it has reached a point where it provides a boom for the sector that reflects the availability of our agricultural products on the international market,” said Sakhon.
According to the minister, 10,935,618 tonnes of paddy was harvested last year on 3,268,968ha.
He said the total non-rice agricultural product supply to domestic and international markets for 2020 is likely to be valued at more than $4.49 billion, with exports accounting for $2.17 billion.
State-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) director-general Kao Thach told The Post on January 3: “Recent paddy exports to Vietnam and Thailand have not been jeopardised by the [reported] lack of capital [among rice millers], and may have been [buoyed] by psychological factors stemming from the [growing] global milled-rice market, leading millers to buy paddy exclusively to [fulfil] milled-rice [orders].”
Pann Chantrea, owner of Thorn Chea Rice Mill in Tbong Khmum province’s O’Reang-ou district, noted that much of Cambodia’s paddy production was absorbed by the Vietnamese market through brokers who transported wet paddy during the current harvest.
Chantrea said: “Nowadays, most local traders transport paddy to sell at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, predominantly white rice, of which Vietnamese traders buy a lot.
“Usually exporting a lot to Vietnam is not good for local rice millers because we’ll be faced with a shortage of paddy to mill for export. As I see it, it’d be better to mill rice before exporting it.”
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran plans to launch the “Malys Angkor” brand of fragrant rice exports in mid-2021 and require all millers and exporters to attach its label to their products bound for China and the EU.
“We will continue to work to boost our high quality milled rice exports. We look forward to continuing to work to improve the livelihoods of those in the Cambodian rice industry,” he said on December 30.
“We truly thank all our partners and I send the most cordial blessings to the countries that import milled rice from Cambodia and our partners.”