Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rice lobby refutes rights abuse claim

Rice lobby refutes rights abuse claim

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The rice sector employs 3.2 million people, or 37 per cent of the Kingdom’s population. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Rice lobby refutes rights abuse claim

The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) on Monday voiced deep regret over claims linking milled-rice exports to Australia with human rights abuses.

A group of former activists of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) led by Khieu Dara and claiming to represent Cambodian-Australian citizens filed a petition to an Australian lawmaker with the accusation.

The CRF said it “strongly rejects the implications made in the group of former CNRP activists’ petition.

“We call on farmers not to be used as political pawns to spoil the rice market for other growers. It would well behove them to mull over helping find a market for Cambodian producers instead.”

Chan Sokheang, chairman and CEO of Signatures of Asia Co Ltd, a leading rice miller and exporter, said the allegations were groundless and politically-charged, and only served to harm the interests of the Kingdom’s farmers.

“They’ve done nothing to help Cambodians,” he said, referring to the activists.

The CRF noted that the Cambodian rice sector, which employs 3.2 million people (37 per cent of the Kingdom’s population), has been hit this year with a particularly ruthless trifecta of Covid-19, droughts, and most recently, floods.

“The CRF calls on farmers and the general public, both locals and foreigners, to not believe the fabrications and incitement spewed by these extremist groups.

“The CRF, as well as Cambodian farmers across the country, would like to thank the countries, especially Australia, that have, to this day, helped Cambodia’s rice sector grow,” it said.

Through their persistence, sweat and toil, Cambodian farmers have catapulted the reputation of local grains for quality to the international stage – winning US-based leading trade publication The Rice Trader’s annual World’s Best Rice award in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018.

For many years, the Cambodian government has exempted taxes on farmland, agricultural inputs, as well as seeds, equipment and machinery used in farming, and has a generous agricultural electricity policy in place.

It has also provided assistance to rice millers over the years through special loan packages via its Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB), which has stabilised paddy prices and improved farmers’ livelihoods.

Cambodia exported more than 530,000 tonnes of milled rice to international markets in the first 10 months of this year, up 17.11 per cent year-on-year, worth $366.44 million, CRF statistics show.

China – including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – remained the largest market for Cambodian milled rice, importing the lion’s share of 36 per cent.

Imports from 27 European countries accounted for 32 per cent, Six ASEAN members took in 13 per cent, while 10 African countries shipped in nine per cent.

Australia and New Zealand purchased a cumulative six per cent, and countries in North America and the Asian part of the Middle East imported two per cent.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as