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Exports of rice fall in first nine months

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A worker carries a bag of rice inside a rice mill in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Exports of rice fall in first nine months

Casmbodian rice exports fell 8.4 per cent from 421,966 tonnes in the first nine months of last year to 389,264 tonnes in the same period this year, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Agriculture.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) vice-president Hun Lak said the decrease is due to the shortage of paddy to supply the industry.

The claim conflicts with government records which show national paddy surpluses of up to more than three million tonnes a year.

“The world rice market this year is good, so there are many brokers to buy the paddy directly from farmers, while our storage [facilities are not yet] ready."

“So the trend of rice exports this year has decreased. Even though we have buyers, we do not have paddy on hand to mill for exports,” Lak said.

Lak said considering the fact that Cambodian rice has been acclaimed as among three of the world’s best at the 2018 World Rice Conference, exports are projected to increase by the next harvesting season.

“The award is a chance to build our trademark. It will raise the passion to our farmers and rice millers to speed up quality production,” he said.

The CRF is now discussing the issue of the EU’s possible withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential tax scheme to find a solution if the measure is taken, said Lak.

“We’ve also set up a meeting to discuss the issue with members. It is still hard to say [how we will proceed], as [the withdrawal process] still has a long way to go and we do not expect that it will impact the agriculture industry which has a lot of potential for development,” he said.

Amru Rice Co Ltd CEO Song Saran said Cambodia should not focus primarily on the sale of premium rice.

“We are now focusing on fragrant rice exports while [lower-quality] white rice has decreased, so the trend of exports [has begun] to decrease and will impact the rice industry,” Amru Rice Co Ltd CEO Song Saran said.

“Our buyers are still on contract and the rice market is still stable for us, so it would bring a better deal for the rice industry while maintaining our quality and improving the market."

“Being acclaimed among the world’s best rice is evidence of this,” he said.

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