Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, announced that the ministry has successfully negotiated the signing of rice supply contracts between rice mills and agricultural cooperatives in three provinces.

As of March 27, a total of 23 co-ops in Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Chhnang and Prey Veng provinces have committed to providing paddy to seven mills.

Koma witnessed the signing of 16 of the contracts on March 27, and said that by the end of the year, the ministry wants to see similar contracts in effect in 13 provinces across the country.

“I observed the signing ceremony of contracts between five mills and 16 rice farming co-ops. They cover the production of feed paddy rice,” he explained.

“The co-ops, which are made up of 806 farming households, cultivate 4,465ha of land and have contracted to supply 5,805 tonnes of paddy,” he said.

Saing Koma reiterated that the ministry advised all stakeholders to respect the terms of the contracts and urged them to negotiate in good faith, so that future expanded cooperation would be possible between partners.

He said the provincial agriculture departments would monitor all parties and make sure that both production and purchase obligations are met.

“In addition to securing the sale and purchase of high-quality and reasonably priced paddy, co-ops and mills have access to low-interest financial assistance,” he said.

Contract rice farming was rolled out on a small scale in 2023, as there were many varieties of seed in use. By 2024-25, the ministry expects the production of standardised seeds to increase, making contracted yields more attractive to both farmers and mills.

Khun Saem, president of Ba Phnom Meanchey Cooperative in Prey Veng province, told The Post that his co-op had signed two contracts: one with a mill and the other to purchase seeds from another farming co-op.

He said the contract with the mill required his co-op to supply two types of paddy: nearly 300 tonnes of OM 5451, and more than 200 tonnes of the IR 504 variant. The other contract guaranteed his community a supply of seeds.

“The signing of these contracts means the mills can purchase high-quality paddy rice, while we are guaranteed stable prices for our produce,” added Saem.

“If a mill does not comply with the contract, the authorities will step in,” he said.

The agriculture ministry has said that the increase in contract negotiations is one part of a government policy to improve the quality of rice production, while addressing market-pricing issues.