AGRICULTURE Minister Chan Sarun told the Post Monday that Cambodia would meet its target rice harvest of 7 million tonnes this year despite damage wrought by Typhoon Ketsana, which struck Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of September.
“From observing the … fields so far, the unharvested rice looks good – there’s no insect damage and no more rainfall that could cause flooding,” he said.
With 2.331 million hectares under cultivation, he added, the Kingdom had also surpassed the original target of 2.264 million hectares.
Chan Sarun said that Ketsana did not adversely affect this year’s rice production because it mostly affected mountainous areas where there was little cultivation, including Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces.
We will succeed in our plan to produce 7 million tonnes of rice, or more, this year.
The tropical storm had damaged between 2 and 4 percent of Cambodia’s total paddy, he said, about 40,000 hectares.
“We will succeed in our plan to produce 7 million tonnes of rice, or more, this year,” Chan Sarun said, adding that therefore the Kingdom would at least match last year’s 7 million-tonne harvest.
He predicted that farmers would earn US$1,500 per hectare of paddy this year, as buyers were trying to purchase unprocessed rice of different varieties – phka malis, jasmine, phka romdul and sen pidaol – at between 1,050 and 1,300 riels (US$0.25-$0.31) per kilogram.
Oung Channa, a rice seller in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district who sells about 20 tonnes per day, said prices had increased in recent months.
Recent spike in rice prices
The price of normal rice, known locally as khmer phdoa, had risen from between 60,000 riels and 62,000 riels to 85,000 riels per 50-kilogram sack over the past five months, she said.
But prices of higher quality varieties such as phka malis had remained static over the same period, she added, at about 2,300 riels per kilogram.
She said she expected prices overall to continue rising as more of the harvest is exported to Thailand and Vietnam.
Despite the government’s optimistic outlook for this season’s harvest, some farmers said severe flooding meant they would not have sufficient rice to meet their own needs, let alone excess to generate an income.
Beang Teang, a farmer living in Sre Kor village in Stung Treng province’s Sesan district, said his family’s 2 hectares had been destroyed by flooding.
He said the other 179 families in his village faced a similar situation.