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Rice storage facilities nearly ready for next harvest season

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An employees uses a forklift to stack pallets of rice at a storage and processing plant on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Rice storage facilities nearly ready for next harvest season

Three new rice storage and drying facilities will be ready in July for the upcoming harvest season and will boost the sector’s capacity and export potential, even as the Ministry of Agriculture claimed the sector still needs more storage space to meet demand.

Constructed in Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces, the facilities each have a capacity of 500,000 tonnes of raw paddy and are able to dry 1,500 tonnes of rice daily. The state-run Rural Development Bank (RDB) provided loans totalling $15 million to two companies, Khmer Food and Amru Rice for the construction of the storage spaces. The move was intended to alleviate stress on farmers and millers when stockpiles grow large during the harvest season.

Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, said that they received $5 million late last year to build the facility on 25,000 square metres of land in Kampong Thom province. The company also raised $3 million of its own capital to build an additional six warehouses on the plot.

“Now we are installing and testing, it will be ready for the next harvesting,” he said, noting that storage is playing an important role in reducing the flow of paddy to neighbouring countries for processing.

Kim Savuth, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation and CEO of Khmer Food, who received $10 million in RDB loans to build facilities in Prey Veng and Takeo provinces, also claimed that the rice storage and rice drying will be ready for the coming season.

“Our rice storage and drying is almost ready at 90 percent in Takeo province while in Prey Veng, it is set to finish as well,” he said. “We plan to handle paddy for the coming season, it will boost exports,” he said, adding that the construction of adequate storage and drying facilities was imperative if Cambodia’s rice sector hopes to compete internationally on price when dealing with government-to-government bids.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a rice storage facility funded by the Korean government in Kampong Cham province’s Bateay district. Costing $2.8 million, the space can dry 80 tonnes per day and store 600 tonnes, said Hean Vanha, a director-general at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“It is a solution for the farmer, which means no more concerns about rice storage and the flow of paddy across the border,” he said, “even though our industry still needs more storage and drying capacity to meet the demand of rice production.”

Early last year, RDB awarded a $15 million low-interest loan to Thanakea Srov (Kampuchea) Plc, the operator of the Cambodian Rice Bank, to expand its rice storage warehouse in Battambang province to be finished in 2018.

The warehouse is set to be the first privately owned centralised storage facility with a capacity to store 200,000 tonnes of wet paddy rice and to process 3,000 tonnes of paddy rice daily.

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