A CANADIA Bank-owned rice mill will begin operations in Takeo province during next year’s autumn harvest season, bringing 60,000 tonnes of milling capacity to a market strained by a lack of processing power.
The US$10 million project was part of an increase in financing for agriculture, and specifically for rice milling, Canadia Bank chairman Pung Kheav Se said yesterday at a cerem-ony for the bank’s 20th anniversary.
In 2012, Canadia would increase agricultural loans by more than 70 per cent, or to about $100 million of its total $715 million in lending, Pung Kheav Se said.
Seven per cent of total lending currently went to agricultural development, but the figure should hit 12 per cent next year, he said.
The bank was also preparing to finance rice procurement in provin-ces such as Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom in an attempt to limit the amount of paddy rice that flowed to Thailand and Vietnam, Pung Kheav Se said.
The Takeo mill would process about 300 tonnes of rice a day, or about 60,000 tonnes a year, he said.
Its capacity could be raised to about 100,000 tonnes in the future, one-tenth of the Kingdom’s 2015 rice-export goal, he added.
Domestic banks provided about $140 million to rice millers for rice procurement this year, but that figure should increase to $350 million by 2015 – or enough to buy a million tonnes of unmilled rice, Federation of Cambodian Rice Miller Associat-ions president Phou Puy said.
Cambodia exported 51,000 tonnes of milled rice in 2010, according to the World Bank.
Between January and October, milled-rice exports increased year-on-year by more than seven per cent, hitting 136,000 tonnes, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
In a report issued in July, the World Bank expressed doubt about the Kingdom’s ability to export a million tonnes of milled rice by 2015 – a goal Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian government have steadfastly reiterated.
Logistic bottlenecks and a dearth of milling capacity could limit milled-rice exports to 250,000 tonnes, the report said.
Takeo’s rice-milling capacity presently stood at around 100 tonnes a day, Takeo Rice Millers Association president Doung Heng said.
Despite the potential jump in rice input needed for the new factory, Cambodian farmers would still be able to meet the demand for paddy at existing domestic mills, he said.
“[The new rice mill] will not cause internal competition,” Doung Heng said, adding that paddy exports to neighbouring countries could be used domestically.