Cambodian milled-rice exports to the international market in the first five months of this year skyrocketed 42 per cent to 356,097 tonnes from 250,172 tonnes during the same period last year, said a report from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.
The European market accounted for 122,010 tonnes, up 51.10 per cent year-on-year from 80,749 tonnes, the Chinese market 136,825 tonnes, up 25.26 per cent, ASEAN countries 45,825 tonnes, up 45.39 per cent, and other destinations 51,437 tonnes, up 79.40 per cent.
Fragrant rice accounted for 289,287 tonnes, or 81.24 per cent, white long-grain rice 62,779 tonnes and long-grain parboiled rice 4,031 tonnes.
In May alone, rice exports reached 55,845 tonnes, an increase of 53.38 per cent compared to May last year, of which 51,683 tonnes was fragrant rice, 3,578 tonnes was white long-grain rice and 584 tonnes was long-grain parboiled rice.
Pich Chan, general manager of rice miller and exporter Signatures of Asia Co Ltd, told The Post on Sunday that rice exports have been steadily rising since the beginning of this year.
The Covid-19 outbreak has fuelled global demand for food stockpiles, he said. “Export growth continues across all destination markets, most notably in those with a significant surge in orders, such as Australia.
“It’s a good sign for the Cambodian milled rice market, especially for fragrant varieties, as export volumes to international markets further increase,” said Chan.
When asked about the outlook for the exports for the rest of the year, he said it was too early to speculate due to uncertainty in countries’ responses to the pandemic and their rice stock levels.
Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd vice-president Kann Kunthy could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
But he wrote on his personal Facebook page during the weekend that he expects Cambodian milled rice exports to hit 800,000 tonnes this year.
“Covid-19 has cracked the backbone of the Cambodian and global economies, disrupting almost every sector.
“But it has also reflected that the food and agricultural sectors are very crucial, and it is an opportunity for Cambodia to focus attention on and develop the agricultural sector to its fullest potential,” said Kunthy.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the additional export volume is linked to Covid-19 concerns regarding food shortages.
“This is an opportunity that shows that Cambodia must work hard to strengthen and expand its growing operations and grow more food-related crops.
“Covid-19 affects the export of agro-industrial products, but food and agricultural products are doing very well,” said Heng.
With its favourable geographical location and climate, the Kingdom has many of the right features to attract investors into agriculture, he said.
“Clear strategic planning is needed to meet the expectations of exporting one million tonnes of milled rice,” said Heng, referring to the government’s pledge to export one million tonnes of rice per annum, originally made in August 2010 for 2015.
Cambodia exported 387,000 tonnes of rice in 2014, 538,396 tonnes in 2015, 542,144 tonnes in 2016, 635,679 tonnes in 2017, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data show.
The Kingdom exported 620,106 tonnes of rice last year, down 0.97 per cent from 626,225 tonnes in 2018. The exports generated $501 million in revenue last year, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018.