Cambodia exported 448,203 tonnes of milled rice to international markets in the first eight months of this year, an increase of more than 31.04 per cent compared to 342,045 tonnes in the same period last year.
The General Directorate of Agriculture reported this, citing data from the General Department of Customs and Excise that was extracted from phytosanitary certificates.
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Lun Yeng said the exports were worth between $298 and $300 million.
The directorate said jasmine and fragrant rice accounted for 352,802 tonnes, equivalent to 78.71 per cent of total milled-rice exports, while white long-grain rice accounted for 89,699 tonnes (20.01 per cent).
Long-grain parboiled rice accounted for 5,679 tonnes (1.27 per cent) and red rice 23 tonnes (0.01 per cent).
China topped the list of 59 destination markets for Cambodian milled rice with 159,253 tonnes imported (up 19.79 year-on-year), accounting for a 35.53 per cent market share.
Exports to Europe, ASEAN countries and other destinations reached 149,848 tonnes, 60,933 tonnes and 78,169 tonnes, up 24.81, 42.49 and 68.92 per cent year-on-year, accounting for 33.43, 13.59 and 17.44 per cent of total milled-rice exports for the period.
But milled-rice shipments slipped 34.97 per cent to 22,130 tonnes last month, from 34,032 tonnes in August last year.
The CRF’s Yeng told The Post that last month’s exports failed to live up to expectations and chalked it up to adverse weather. “The prolonged drought in July damaged some crops, requiring replanting in some areas.”
CRF president Song Saran on August 26 met with the State-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia and requested that it increase the scope of its special loan scheme for rice millers to purchase paddy during the harvest season starting next month.
He told The Post that CRF members are lacking the funds needed to purchase paddy from farmers to hit this year’s export target.
“With the harvest season approaching, we proposed that the ARDB increase the amount of special government loans this year as we plan to export around 800,000 tonnes, which requires us to have between $80 and $100 million,” Saran said.
At the same time, the CRF has asked the ARDB to extend its loan repayment period to 12 months to help rice millers buy paddy, he said, adding that the current period is too short and could hinder its members’ ability to purchase paddy from farmers.
Though Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data show that Cambodia exported 387,000 tonnes of milled rice in 2014, 538,396 tonnes in 2015, 542,144 tonnes in 2016, 635,679 tonnes in 2017, 626,225 tonnes in 2018 and 620,106 tonnes last year, it remains optimistic that exports will hit the 800,000 tonne-milestone this year.
The CRF’s Yeng wasn’t so sure. “We are unable to assess whether the rice export volume will meet the forecast or not at the present time. We’ll have to wait for the reassessment, which could be made in mid- to late September.”
Ministry data show that 2019 milled-rice exports generated revenue to the tune of $501 million, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018.