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Government seeks to boost rice exports

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A farmer loads sacks of rice onto a truck in Moung Russey district’s Russey Kraing commune in Battambang province on January 17, 2016. Hong Menea

Government seeks to boost rice exports

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government will take more action to raise the Kingdom’s rice exports, including reducing production costs and boosting market competitiveness.

Speaking at a meeting with garment workers in Kandal province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia’s rice exports could not reach one million tonnes per annum due to strong international market competition.

However, he said the Kingdom has already reached one of the government’s policies as it is now a country of surplus rice production, as it is set to reach six million tonnes this year.

“We have transformed from a country of milled rice shortages to a Kingdom of rice production, but we cannot reach our goal yet [exporting one million tonnes of rice annually] because competition among our partners – such as Thailand and Vietnam – is very strong,” he said.

Fierce competition

Hun Sen said Thailand and Vietnam are able to export six and five million tonnes of milled rice respectively each year, due to their capacity to buy storage and drying facilities, as well as meet phytosanitary and sanitary measures. Production costs are also cheaper than in Cambodia.

“We will set up a new policy to reduce production cost such as connecting electricity supply to regions with water access, by replacing diesel machines with electric ones,” he said.

Hun Sen also encouraged studying domestic fertiliser production to produce cheaper options for the rice industry and reduce production costs.

Relevant ministers, including those leading the Commerce and Agriculture, and Forestry and Fisheries departments, need to expand and seek new markets as Cambodia has world-famous, high-quality rice, he said.

Cambodia Rice Federation vice-president Vong Bun Heng welcomed the move and believed that the Kingdom will reach the one-million-tonne target if the new policy on production costs is well implemented.

“Our issue is production costs. If the government takes more action to remedy production costs, I believe our rice exports will reach the government’s objective."

“We already have quality rice. If the [issue] is truly resolved, we will be able to compete with Vietnam and reach new markets,” he said.

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