CEDAC says storage houses will lead to higher rural incomes with construction underway in Kampot and Takeo
A local agricultural development organisation plans to build nine paddy storehouses and rice mills with US$200,000 in funds from international donors, the group said this week.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), said an increase in storage facilities and rice mills on community farms would help boost the country's export capacity.
"I want to build at least 30 paddy storehouses and rice mills in provinces with rice-producing potential over the three years," he said.
"We expect that the storehouses and the mills will be able to help communities produce enough rice to meet market demand and target the amount of rice they produce for those who wish to engage in large-scale exports."
By allowing them to stockpile unsold quantities of rice, storehouses can help community farms sell their products at higher prices, ensure local food security and help create job opportunities for local villagers, Yang Saing Koma added.
He said that farmers have struggled to get high prices for the sale of unhusked rice paddy because they are set by buyers, and that the export of rice in large amounts also posed difficulties because rice production is not usually organised collectively.
The building of paddy storehouses and rice mills is a first step.
Nevertheless, paddy was selling for an average of 1,100 riels ($0.27) a kilo on Thursday at Phnom Penh's markets, up 10 percent since the beginning of the year.
"I think that if Cambodia has more places to store paddy and more rice mills, it will be easier for the country to export rice abroad," Yang Saing Koma said.
He said CEDAC was in the process of building paddy storehouses and rice mills in both Kampot and Takeo provinces, which would allow local producers to store 400 tonnes of rice and produce up to a tonne of husked rice per hour.
The first storehouse and rice mill, built in Kampot's Dang Tung district, had a price tag of more than US$10,000.
The second, in Tram Koak district of Takeo province, costs CEDAC around $46,000.
Ministry of Agriculture's Chan Sarun said that Cambodia currently has 3 million tonnes of rice stockpiled for exports, but that most was still in farmers' hands and that there was no means of collecting it for mass export.
"I think that the building of paddy storehouses and rice mills is a first step for communities to continue enlarging the rice industry," he told the Post.
He added that increased market information from the government would also help spur exports.
Cambodia has nearly 300 community farms formally registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, consisting of about 20,000 family members.