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Rice sector looks to up exports

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The government and the private sector are jointly studying the feasibility of lowering paddy production costs and refining milled rice export plans to increase the competitiveness of Cambodia’s market. POST STAFF

Rice sector looks to up exports

The government and the private sector are jointly studying the feasibility of lowering paddy production costs and refining milled rice export plans to increase the competitiveness of Cambodia’s market.

Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Sok Sopheak on Monday said ongoing discussions are aimed at identifying the challenges and giving the Kingdom’s rice sector a competitive edge.

He was speaking at a meeting on rice production costs with representatives from the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) and the Cambodian Agricultural Value Chain Program.

“[The discussion] analyses the value chain of the rice sector, from farming, drying and milling processes until the export stage, as well as the shipping documentation process for exports to target countries in Europe and [elsewhere],” said Sopheak.

He said the stakeholders discussed the impact on the export value of Cambodian mill rice, including electricity issues, transport from warehouse to port, port costs, and shipping costs from ports to import destinations countries.

At the same time, he encouraged the private sector to continue to work with the ministry to address the challenges in the rice sector, he said.

CRF vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post on Tuesday that the study aims to boost competition with major rice producers in the ASEAN region and promote the goal of one million tonnes of rice exports by 2022.

“We have a general overview of local production costs, focusing on Phka Romduol paddy, Sen Kra’op paddy, and white rice.

“We discussed this in order to bring the production value chains between Cambodia and our neighbours to similar levels, especially as we want to further increase Cambodia’s white rice exports,” he said.

At the same time, he called on the government to boost financial assistance to enable rice millers to buy and store paddy rice to process for export.

“We would like to request that the government, the National Bank of Cambodia and commercial banks provide loans to the agricultural sector because it contributes nearly $10 billion per year to the economy.

“But the loans that the banks offer to the agricultural sector are miniscule compared to what they provide for the industrial, garment and construction sectors,” said Sokheang.

Cambodia exported 300,252 tonnes of rice to the international market in the first four months of this year – equivalent to $210 million – the highest export volume in the past decade, said a CRF report.

The export volume is 40.46 per cent over the 213,763 tonnes reported in the same period last year, it said.

China accounted for 41 per cent of exports or 122,094 tonnes, the EU and the UK 32 per cent or 97,337 tonnes, ASEAN countries 13 per cent or 37,428 tonnes and other countries 14 per cent or 43,339 tonnes.

The Kingdom’s rice exports to international markets amounted to 620,106 tonnes last year, slightly down 0.97 per cent from 626,225 tonnes in 2018. Revenue was $501 million, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018.

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