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Rice industry calls for help

Rice industry calls for help

120611_07

A villager plants rice in a paddy field in Sre Chumrov village in Phnom Penh's Posenchey district. More government support for the industry is needed, millers say. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Milled-rice exporters have called on the government to continue its efforts in reducing electricity and transportation costs, two of the main obstacles facing the government’s goal of exporting 1 million tonnes of milled rice by 2015.

At a working group on rice exports on Friday, 40 of the Kingdom’s millers and exporters looked to the government for more support on what they said is holding the industry back.

“As exporters, we definitely want to meet the government’s goal. But we can’t do it unless we try to work these issues out together,” chairman of both the working group and of Loran Import-Export Co Lim Bun Heng said at the meeting.

High production costs in Cambodia, which included the costs of milling, put a burden on export markets, he said, adding that shipping cost per container were up to US$60 higher than neighbouring rice producers.

Kim Savuth, managing director of Khmer Food, pointed to Electricite du Cambodge as a possible catalyst in reducing power prices. “Electricite du Cambodge should think about helping the local producers.

They should not only try to make their own profits,” he said. “I want our production cost down so we can be much more competitive and still make a profit.”

The government has already made progress in relieving the agricultural sector of some costs, Phouy Puy, president of the Cambodia Millers Associations and president of Baitong Co, said.

The government has helped facilitate exports by reducing unnecessary fees and speeding up paperwork, although the issues still constrain the industry.

Phouy Puy called on exporters to co-operate on strengthening production capacity and raising the quality of the rice.

Lim Bun Heng estimated that Cambodia has exported about 60,000 tonnes of milled rice to the global market.

Although the government said the country would more than double its rice exports to 400,000 tonnes this year, experts have expressed misgivings about the figure as exports to Europe, Cambodia’s primary buyer, declined at the beginning of the year.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]

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