In an effort to promote rice exports among Cambodian farmers, government officials said on Tuesday they will register the type of rice seed set for export and the rice seed produced for the national market.
Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce, said on the closing of the 2nd Rice Forum held by the Cambodian Small and Medium Enterprise Union his ministry will list the varieties of rice seed needed for local and international markets and communicate it to the farmers.
“We have seven to eight kinds of rice seeds to label and then we can go ahead,” he said.
The idea was shared with hundreds of local and international rice experts at the forum, but Cham Prasidh said it was not an immediate plan because he aims to have both the public and private sector working together in the project.
The plan will not force farmers to change their rice seeds, he said.
“They can still sell it in the domestic market if they don’t follow the rules, so we are not forcing them,” said Cham Prasidh. “Right now we just use more education and less force,” he said.
Rice experts said that this is a difficult task because of the shortage of some kind of rice seeds and the difficulty to respond to high demand.
Lem Bunheng, ninth group leader and assitant to the forum, said changing the harvest habits of the farmers is hard because they are afraid of losing their traditions.
But he said the plan will be profitable on the long run because the ministry campaign will change the farmers’ current thinking.
During the first three quarters of 2012, Cambodia had officially exported 123,000 tonnes of milled rice and 167,000 tonnes of paddy rice. The previously estimated numbers from the Ministry of Commerce were 52,000 tonnes of milled rice and 122,000 tonnes of paddy rice.
Outh Renne, Mega Green Imex Cambodia rice mill owner, said in the forum that Cambodia’s big markets are the Phillipines, Indonesia, Europe, China, Africa and Middle East countries.
Of the illegal exports of paddy rice to neighbouring countries, 70 per cent were sent to Vietnam and 30 per cent to Thailand.
Cambodia needs $1 billion to buy the extra rice but currently only has $300 million for it, Outh Renne said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]