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Cambodia three-time champ

Women demonstrate traditional rice-farming methods in Phnom Penh on Tuesday at the second annual rice festival
Women demonstrate traditional rice-farming methods in Phnom Penh on Tuesday at the second annual rice festival, a precursor for the sixth annual World Rice Conference. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia three-time champ

Cambodian rice was yesterday named the World’s Best Rice for 2014 along with Thailand, an accolade the Kingdom has received for the past three years running.

The winners of the annual competition were announced yesterday during the closing day of the sixth World Rice Conference in Phnom Penh. Both Cambodia and Thailand have now received the title three times each since the award was first offered in 2009. Myanmar won the title in 2011.

Jeremy Zwinger, president and CEO of The Rice Trader, told the Post that 15 countries entered the race for the 2014 World’s Best Rice awards. Judges awarded Cambodian and Thai rice scores of 53, resulting in a draw between the neighbouring nations.

“Cambodian rice is excellent. Cambodian jasmine rice is absolutely the best test rice in the world in 2011, 2012, and 2013,” Zwinger told the Post yesterday.

“Cambodia won the award three times in a row. So it is [a] very big honour. Cambodian rice has amazing potential in the future,” he said.

The winning grain was Cambodia’s Romdoul Rice, a jasmine rice seed variety.

Talking to reporters after receiving the award, Sok Puthyvuth, president of Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said that winning the award three times consistently will help boost Cambodian rice exports.

“It is a proud day for our Cambodian rice,” Puthyvuth said. “We hope that Cambodia’s rice reputation gets more well known from now on. In the mean time, we need to do more work in order to ensure that we have more capacity to supply this well-known rice to the world market.”

“I hope that our farmers are now more encouraged to grow such good quality rice. We will continue to try to strengthen the standards of quality,” the CRF president said.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said he was surprised at the rapid improvement in Cambodia’s rice over the past five years.

“Honestly, Cambodian fragrant jasmine rice nowadays, the quality is somehow better than Thai [rice],” he said, adding his association submitted six different varieties of rice for this year’s competition.

“Thailand and Cambodia have very similar varieties of jasmine even though we call it different names. We hope that in future we can jointly package everything together and do some kind of cooperation in terms of trading jasmine rice to benefit both countries.”

Ophaswongse said Thai farmers have been focused on increasing yields and as such using more chemicals which can result in a decline in quality.

Sok David, vice-president of Golden Rice Cambodia, said the award has show-cased the Kingdom’s quality.

“If your [client] wants a lower price with specific quality, Cambodia can do it,” he said.

“That said, I hope that the quantity will also increase in the next few years so we can reach the 1 million-tonne goal,” he added.

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