Cambodia earned over $685 million from rice exports to international markets in the first eight months of 2021, as the volume of paddy sold abroad nearly doubled year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
According to data revealed by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon last week, the Kingdom shipped 2,726,597 tonnes of rice – paddy and milled – overseas in the January-August period, worth $685.15 million.
Paddy accounted for 2,383,150 tonnes, up by 85.93 per cent year-on-year from 1,101,431 tonnes, of which 1,564,952.52 tonnes were shipped to Vietnam – with phytosanitary certificates, the minister said, adding that Cambodia generated a total of $393.22 million from paddy exports.
This means that the rough grains made up 57.39 per cent and 87.40 per cent of all rice exports in terms of value and volume, respectively, and sold at an average $165 per tonne.
Meanwhile, milled-rice exports amounted to 343,447 tonnes, plunging by 23.37 per cent year-on-year from 448,203 tonnes. Revenue from these sales was to the tune of $291.93 million, down by 2.65 per cent from $299.90 million, the minister added.
This indicates that the white grains made up 42.61 per cent and 12.60 per cent of all rice exports in terms of value and volume, respectively, and sold at an average $850 per tonne.
Sakhon said jasmine and fragrant rice accounted for 242,432 tonnes (or 70.59 per cent of total milled-rice exports), white long-grain rice clocked in at 94,441 tonnes (27.50 per cent), and long-grain parboiled rice amounted to 6,574 tonnes (1.91 per cent).
The minister ascribed the decline in milled-rice exports over the January-August period to a sharp 41.09 per cent year-on-year reduction in sales to the EU market, which stood at just 88,271 tonnes.
This slowdown in sales is predominantly due to the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia – effective from January 18, 2019 – requiring the Kingdom to pay €175 ($210) per tonne in the first year, €150 per tonne in year two, and €125 per tonne in year three.
Sakhon said milled-rice exports to ASEAN countries and 22 other destinations in the first eight months of this year amounted to 35,553 tonnes and 54,011 tonnes, declining by 41.65 per cent and 30.90 per cent year-on-year.
Milled-rice sales to China, on the other hand, piled on 3.99 per cent to stand at 165,612 tonnes, he said.
Last month alone, milled-rice shipments abroad reached 33,582 tonnes, marking an increase of 51.75 per cent over August 2020, ministry figures show.
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran pointed out that another factor hurting sales of Cambodian milled rice to more distant destinations – especially the EU – was an ongoing container shortage that is pushing up shipping costs.
Historically, the EU was the largest market for Cambodian milled rice, hence the decline has also dragged down the total volume of exports, he told The Post on September 6.
Saran conceded that the 800,000-tonne target for 2021 milled-rice exports set by the CRF at the end of last year would likely not be achieved, despite rising exports to China.
“We only have three-to-four months left – the Chinese market will not be able to absorb all of it [the remaining 456,553 tonnes or 57.07 per cent left to hit the target],” he said.
Still, he noted that the CRF is currently working to further diversify milled-rice exports to the Chinese market. “If nothing changes, China will be the largest market for milled rice from Cambodia by the end of 2021,” he said.
In 2020, Cambodia exported a total of 690,829 tonnes of milled rice, valued at nearly $539 million, surging by 11.40 per cent compared to 2019, according to data from the ministry.