A prominent rice industry representative on April 19 asked the Phnom Penh authorities to loosen constraints on the movement of milled rice within restricted areas in the capital and adjacent Takmao town, amid a two-week lockdown that has been imposed to contain the current spread of Covid-19.
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran told The Post that the association would supply about 40,000 tonnes of milled rice for residents of blocked-off areas, but that authorities were reportedly impeding the transport of the main staple food.
“We asked Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to facilitate the transport of our milled rice. I think that if the authorities were to smoothen the way for us, it’d be a really great help because our members have milled-rice distribution channels in all areas. We’re working with city hall to allow us to distribute milled rice to those who need it," he said.
Neither CRF nor city hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey could be reached for comment.
CRF estimates reveal that monthly demand for milled rice in Phnom Penh and Takmao stands at around 40,000 tonnes, according to Saran.
With a storage capacity of more than 300,000 tonnes nationwide, Saran said the federation’s members have plenty of paddy to mill if demand surges during the lockdown.
"We’re now preparing 20,000 tonnes to distribute into the market during the two-week lockdown so that our members, especially those with depots in the city, can sell supplies without interruption. And we’ll add another 20,000 tonnes if demand remains high," he said.
On April 18, seven CRF member companies slashed retail prices of milled rice by 10,000-20,000 riel ($2.50-5) per 50kg sack to participate in government efforts to improve people’s livelihoods during the lockdown in Phnom Penh and Takmao.
In a press release issued that day, CRF listed some of the locations of the depots as the Borey Rith area in Russey Keo district’s Russey Keo commune; just south of the Sakyamuni Stupa near the train station in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune; near Prey Chrey Market in Dangkor district’s Prek Kampeus commune; and in Snor commune of Phnom Penh’s westernmost Kambol district.