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Exports of paddy, white rice and fish are back on the table

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The Cambodian government has decided to lift the ban on the export of paddy, white rice and fish to international markets starting on May 20. Hong Menea

Exports of paddy, white rice and fish are back on the table

The Cambodian government has decided to lift the ban on the export of paddy, white rice and fish to international markets starting on May 20.

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday, on the heels of an announcement made last week to allow for the export of white rice.

It overturns a ban imposed early last month which aimed to ensure food security and price stability in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On March 30, Hun Sen ordered the suspension of white rice and paddy exports from Cambodia from 11:59pm on April 5 to ensure a stable domestic stockpile to meet domestic consumption needs.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said: “The government is constantly monitoring the situation of farmers’ cultivation, stockpiles and global markets, so deciding to resume exports means that Cambodia has sufficient capacity for domestic consumption and exports.

“While some countries continue to restrict exports of agricultural products and fisheries, reopening at this time not only demonstrates Cambodia’s ability, but also its opportunity to expand to markets in many countries around the world,” he said.

He added that the export of paddy, white rice, and fish would help partially offset the economic slowdown in the services sector, especially in the tourism sector.

Earlier this month, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post that the ministry is striving to strengthen and expand agricultural cultivation and aquaculture to increase their potential to supply domestic demand and to export to international markets.

He said he and his team make regular field visits and encourage farmers and companies to increase their investment in agriculture and aquaculture. This will not only create jobs for locals but will also increase the potential for local products to be exported.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Hong Vanak told The Post on Sunday that the government’s decision to resume paddy, white rice and fish exports will be a positive for the Cambodian economy.

The export restrictions led to ample local stockpiles of food supplies, he said. But, keeping excessive storage may reduce the value of the crops produced by farmers.

“After the temporary restrictions on exports to stabilise the quantity and value of food, the reopening of the exports will help the economy recover to some degree,” said Vanak.

He said the Covid-19 experience has been a wake-up call for farmers and investors to strive for higher-quality and safer agricultural investments to achieve domestic supply independence and boost exports.

Cambodia exported 300,252 tonnes of rice – worth $210 million – to international markets in the first four months of this year, up 40.46 per cent year-on-year from last year’s 213,763 tonnes, data from the ministry shows.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom exported 3,475 tonnes of fishery products in the first three months of this year, an increase of 0.72 per cent compared to the 3,450 tonnes in the same period last year.

Cambodia exported 14,100 tonnes of fishery products to international markets last year, down 2.25 per cent from 14,500 tonnes in 2018.

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