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Rice exports to bounce back

Rice exports to bounce back

Rice exports fell sharply last month, but the Kingdom’s most important crop is expected to recover and end the year in positive territory.

The Secretariat of the One Window Service for Rice Exports Formality reported on Wednesday that Cambodia’s rice exports fell 31.7 percent in September compared to one year earlier.

Secretariat chief Hean Vanhorn attributed the slump to a barrage of factors that battered Cambodia’s price point.

He said yesterday that Thai exporters recently decreased their price of fragrant rice by 20 per cent to about $800 per tonne, while Myanmar was selling 5 per cent broken white rice at $420 per tonne, below Cambodian prices.

Exports also declined on account of the euro’s depreciation against the dollar, he added.

The European Union was the largest export destination for Cambodian rice, accounting for 64 per cent of shipments for the first nine months of 2015.

Song Saran, chairman of Amru Rice, linked last month’s dip in exports to a supply shortage as a result of below-average rainfall earlier in the year that led to an increase in prices, making Cambodia’s prized jasmine rice less competitive in international markets.

“Cambodian rice prices increased last month as stocks were depleted,” he said. “Exports dropped because buyers were able to purchase rice at a low price in other countries, such as Myanmar.”

Saran said prices of Cambodian premium milled fragrant rice had climbed to $880 per tonne, up from $750 per tonne at the beginning of the year.

But he expects rice exports to pick up this month – provided the rains continue – and expects the sector to recover by the end of the year.

“Rice exports will increase in the last three months of the year because we started the harvesting season,” he said.

“But if the rains don’t continue through October, it will hurt next year’s yield.”

However, September’s dip should have minimal impact on the Kingdom’s annual export tally, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Direct milled rice exports between January and August were about 340,000 tonnes, nearly 50 per cent up compared to the same period a year earlier, it noted.

“Reflecting the high pace of shipments so far this year and the government’s strategy to boost official exports through targeting new markets, FAO forecasts total [milled rice and paddy] exports in 2015 at 1.2 million tonnes, 6 per cent above last year’s level,” the agency said in a press release.

Moul Sarith, acting secretary-general of Cambodia Rice Federation, said the Agriculture Ministry projects that 9 million tonnes of paddy rice will be harvested this year. He said orders should start to pick up again this month.

“It’s nearing harvest time,” he said. “It’s a good time for exporting rice as the freshly milled rice has a pleasant smell and high quality.”

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