Cambodia's agricultural exports surpassed 6.2 million tonnes during the first ten months of the year, amounting to more than $3.5 billion across 74 countries, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Agriculture minister Dith Tina made the announcement during the official launch of the “5th and 6th Priority Policy Programmes” of the new government on November 20. 

He reported that from January to October 2023, paddy rice cultivation had covered over 3.6 million hectares, producing 6.2 million tonnes of the commodity. He anticipated the yield to exceed 6.3 million tonnes by November or December.

More than 520,000 tonnes of milled rice, valued at over $458 million, were exported to various countries during the period, including Indonesia, a newly targeted market. 

He noted that in the first three quarters of 2023, exports of latex products surpassed 242,000 tonnes, amounting to over $320 million.

“The ministry is pushing for the implementation of the Fourth Economic Pole Initiative in four northwestern provinces, including Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin to boost development,” he explained.

Tina emphasised the initiative’s role in establishing fish and milled rice channels, an integral part of the “diamond cooperation framework” between Cambodia and China.

He explained that the ministry’s working group is actively promoting the National Cashew Policy 2022-2027, aiming to establish the country as a leading producer of the nut. Additionally, the group focuses on enhancing the cultivation of high-quality, marketable paddy rice seeds to support farmers. 

According to Tina, the effort aligns with the country’s strategy to boost the export of premium milled rice and expedite the development of legislation on contract farming production.

Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Manet noted that despite global challenges, the country has successfully maintained food security and achieved a surplus in agricultural production, which enables exports.

“This is not merely about the natural resources, vast land and fertile soil our country possesses, but also highlights the effective leadership, management and implementation of appropriate policies. The end of the war, clearing agricultural land of landmines and introducing various incentive policies in agriculture have all contributed significantly to productivity,” he said. 

The prime minister also stated that the government has historically endeavoured to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) to access more external markets, a strategy also pursued by other competing nations.

“Not all countries come to buy products from Cambodia without our efforts. We need to ensure our policies, communication, quality and value are maintained in this competitive environment,” he said. 

Regarding paddy rice, Manet noted that this year’s prices are favourable compared to last year, with the current price ranging from 1,000 to 1,300 riel per kilogramme. In contrast, during the same period last year, the price was between 800 and 1,000 riel. The improvement coincides with a decline in the prices of raw materials used in producing some fertilisers and pesticides.

“This situation enables our farmers to earn more, as it’s not just about the selling price, but also the production cost, which determines the farmers’ profit. If the cost is too expensive, profits will decrease. Therefore, the government has implemented numerous … policies and incentives to reduce prices, ensuring competitiveness and passing these benefits on to the people,”he explained.

Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), expressed his pride on behalf of the private sector on November 20. 

“We and all members of the federation are proud to assist the government in its mission to find overseas markets, especially in opening milled rice to new markets this year,” he said.

“We will continue this work, as we are currently cooperating and exploring ways to promote Cambodian milled rice as a marketing strategy. Our ongoing collaboration with overseas partners aims to boost the export of Cambodian milled rice to other countries around the world,” he added.