Cambodia's total paddy rice output has grown more than 6 per cent in 2012 compared with 2011 because of an increase in paddy rice fields in the last season, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture released yesterday.
The data show that paddy rice output climbed up to 6.06 per cent to 9.3 million tonnes this year compared with 8.8 million tonnes in 2011.
Average output per hectare decreased 1.18 per cent to 3.136 tonnes per hectare in 2012 compared with 3.173 tonnes per hectare in 2011. Paddy fields increased by 106 per cent to 16,766 hectares.
According to Renne Outh, owner of Mega Green Imex, Cambodia still has a number of opportunities to increase the production and enlarge the agricultural field, especially the rice sector, compared with other countries in the region.
“Cambodia can increase, Cambodia has a lot of free land [available], while Thailand or Vietnam, they’ve come already to the bottleneck of the possibilities to enlarge the land and increase … production.”
Although the paddy rice and milled rice surplus increased sharply in the last season, milled rice exports only increased by under 2 per cent.
Chan Sarun, minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that there were local and international scenarios affecting the slow milled rice exports in 2012.
Local factors included mill owners saving rice for the domestic market in case of floods. Internationally, India only decreased the amount of rice it keeps as food stock to five to 10 tonnes a year.
Previously, the number ranged from 30 to 35 tonnes.
“Milled rice was not exported immediately because they thought that the price of milled rice will increase due to flooding. They postponed exports in order to supply the local market,” said Sarun.
He said that based on the data, Cambodia’s export of milled rice ranked No. 5 in the region and sixth in the world.
He said that currently rice millers are selling their stock, which will lower the price of paddy by about 100 riel per kilo for paddy rice.
However, fragrant paddy rice can still be sold for a good price in the market, as demand from rice millers is increasing.
Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries showed that in 2012, 1.2 million tonnes of rice had been kept for seeding and as animal food, while 8.1 million tonnes of paddy rice was used for processing into 5.2 million tonnes of milled rice.
Cambodia’s total rice consumption is about 2.1 million tonnes for a population of 14.98 million, allowing for a surplus of 3.04 million tonnes that can be exported in 2013.
Ngov Houng, owner of a rice mill in Prey Veng province, said that so far he had bought only about 300 tonnes of paddy rice due to a lack of funds, adding that the rice cost between 820 riel and 830 riel per kilo.
“The paddy yield this year is higher than last year, but the price is a bit lower,” he said, adding that most of his milled rice had been sold in Phnom Penh and abroad.
According to Sarun, Cambodia’s rice production will grow to more than 10 million tonnes by 2015.
With assistance from Anne Renzenbrink