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Chinese to invest in Kingdom’s rice

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Employees use a forklift to stack pallets of rice at a storage and processing plant on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Chinese to invest in Kingdom’s rice

China’s Henan Yuguang International Economic and Technical Cooperation Co Ltd (HYIETC) has expressed interest in investing in the Kingdom’s rice facilities – a move welcomed by the government and the rice industry.

During a meeting with Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on Friday, HYIETC’s board director unveiled a plan to build one million tonne rice storage facilities. If realised, the project will have the capacity to dry 100,000 tonnes of paddy rice per day, boosting Cambodia’s rice exports to 500,000 tonnes per year.

The ministry welcomed the project, saying it will boost the Kingdom’s milled rice exports and reduce the outflow of paddy rice to neighbouring countries, while the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) claimed the new facilities will be essential for the Kingdom’s rice industry.

The minister encouraged HYIETC to work with state-owned Green Trade Company to further research the plan and gauge construction costs.

Demand not met

CRF vice-president Hun Lak said current rice facilities are insufficient to keep pace with Cambodia’s increasing production, adding that the sector can currently produce up to nine million tonnes of paddy rice per year.

“It is a very good opportunity for investors as our rice facilities still do not meet demand . . . Rice facilities should have a clear mechanism for serving farmers and rice millers in order to receive mutual benefit.”

Hun Lak said rice facilities should provide better options for small rice millers, such as lower rental costs for storage or drying machines.

With government support, via the state-run Rural Development Bank (RDB), the rice industry has received $15 million to construct facilities in Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces. Each facility will have a storage capacity of 500,000 tonnes of paddy rice and will be able to dry 1,500 tonnes of rice daily.

Last year, the RDB awarded a $15 million low-interest loan to Thanakea Srov (Kampuchea) Plc, the operator of the Cambodian Rice Bank, to expand its rice storage warehouse in Battambang province and develop the country’s first privately-owned centralised storage facility.

The facility opened on July 3 and has a 200,000 tonne storage capacity for wet paddy rice and processes 3,000 tonnes of paddy rice daily.

In the middle of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries launched a rice storage facility funded by the Korean government in Kampong Cham province’s Batheay district. Costing $2.8 million, the facility can dry 80 tonnes of rice per day and store 600 tonnes.

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