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Rice taskforce created, again

Rice is harvested from a field using a small harvest machine in Tbong Khmum province earlier this year.
Rice is harvested from a field using a small harvest machine in Tbong Khmum province earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Rice taskforce created, again

The Ministry of Commerce set up a new taskforce on Friday to address challenges faced by the Kingdom’s struggling rice industry and assess demands made by members of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), who have decried the ineffectiveness of an earlier taskforce set up by the ministry.

Moul Sarith, CRF secretary, said the new taskforce will comprise 13 members from the Ministry of Commerce and 11 members from the CRF. The ad hoc working group will seek to address six separate points brought forward by CRF President Sok Puthyvuth during a meeting with Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on Friday.

One of the key demands by the CRF is to obtain shared responsibility with the Minister of Commerce to attribute Certificate of Origin status to rice exporters.

“We want the right to check and approve the certificate of origin of any rice exporter in order to strengthen and control rice quality and prevent false product labelling,” Sarith said. “And as we are working to promote the rice sector, we wish to have a substantial role in the interactions that take place between the Chinese rice association and Cambodia.”

Former minister of commerce Sun Chantol created the first taskforce last March to study threats to the sustainability of the country’s rice industry. Its goals at the time were to formulate urgent measures aimed at stemming the flood of illegal rice imports and facilitating the offer of $20-$30 million in soft loans to struggling rice millers.

However, the new taskforce will not replace the previous one, but rather address separate issues, according to Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Soeng Sophary.

“The work of the new taskforce is to address the six points raised by the CRF and it will only exist temporarily to resolve these new emergencies,” she said. “The previous taskforce was created to solve the issues faced by the sector as a whole and will continue working as normal.”

Tang Chhong Ngy, marketing manager of rice miller LBN Angkor (Kampuchea), said the first taskforce had been highly ineffective and the second working group was created after the same issues were raised again by the CRF.

“We saw many procedures at the national level but none that actually went into operation,” he said.

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