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Rice alliance formed

Rice alliance formed

120528_07

Committed to exporting one million tonnes of Cambodian rice by 2015: the newly formed ARPEC group. Photograph: Mai Vireak/Phnom Penh Post

A new partnership looking to export Cambodian rice to world markets formed yesterday afternoon at Sunway Hotel, with key advisers to the Cambodian government in attendance, including Mey Kalyan and Sok Siphana.

The Alliance of Rice Producers and Exporters of Cambodia (ARPEC) elected their first executive committee, which includes office holders Phou Puy, Hann Khieng, Oknha Kong Sang, Sok Cheng, Seng Bunsor, Hun Lak, David Van, Phe Hok Chhoun and Sen Reth.

The ARPEC group brings together “the major stakeholders in the value chain”, according to deputy secretary David Van.

“Now that the officers have been elected to the executive committee, formal registration will take place at the Ministry of the Interior,” Van said.

About two weeks ago on May 16, some of the new export alliance visited the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Van says the Thai association fully supports the new Cambodian association and will help the new ARPEC develop a relationship with the Vietnam Food Association.

“This is so we can all look at the best possible ways to collaborate between the countries,” Van said.

A few of the ARPEC members had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese provincial authorities to build rice mills round Cambodia with potential capacity of 400,000 tonnes.

“Now we are working on binding terms and conditions in time for the new Chinese leadership to come for the ASEAN summit later this year,” Van said.

“The Chinese, through their own Export-Import Bank, have a special concession agreement made between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to help Cambodia develop the agriculture sector,” Van said.

Government adviser Mey Kalyan, longtime agricultural economist for the United Nations, was present to lend his assistance to the proceedings.

“I think if Cambodia wants to promote the rice sector, we need this kind of exporter association. This is very important as a gateway of Cambodian rice,” he said.

“Rice export is not only about production. It is about the whole process. This is a part of the institution building, the network building to link all the value chains. This gathering today is focused on the end of the process: how do we link with the buyer and feed back to our production side. Logistics, technology and energy are all problems to be resolved. This one is the missing link, the gap, to link between Cambodia rice and the importer,” he said.

“Cambodia is a small country. By pulling all the forces, we can use the economy of scale. Big importers like to buy lots and each small producer cannot meet all the demand. Maybe they can organise a big quantity. They have to manage how much the demand from the market will be and this alliance is a kind of liaison and interface between Cambodia and foreign countries.”

ARPEC deputy secretary David Van said Cambodia’s rice sector had come a long way over the past decade, from an exporting less than 6,000 tonnes in 2008 to 168,000 tonnes in 2011.

“The Cambodian rice sector has still to withstand an ever challenging global trading environment due to more global competitors and depressing prices. In this respect, Cambodia is striving to address key competitiveness issues and realistically, nobody could predict what may be the actual performance for 2012 in view of a global extreme volatile market with depressing prices prevailing, affecting even the two major rice exporter neighbours,” Van said.

Van said ARPEC was pleased to have a diverse range of members representing major players on the rice value chain.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]

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