Cambodia exported more than 2.06 million tonnes of milled and paddy rice worth nearly $616 million in the first half of 2022, up by 4.41 per cent by volume and 19.18 per cent by value on a yearly basis, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.

The report, compiled by the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture based on figures from the National Phytosanitary Database, said paddy exports – exclusively to Vietnam – amounted to 1,733,157 tonnes, up by 2.38 per cent year-on-year from 1,692,813 tonnes, valued at $336,232,458, up by 20.38 per cent from $279,314,145 in January-June 2021. Of that, 1,142,175 tonnes (65.90 per cent) were accompanied by phytosanitary certificates.

The average per-kilogramme value of the paddy exported over the period was 19.40 US cents, up by 17.58 per cent from 16.50 US cents in the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, milled rice exports reached 327,200 tonnes, up by 16.67 per cent year-on-year compared to 280,450 tonnes, to the tune of $279,756,000, up by 17.77 per cent from $237,541,150 in January-June 2021. The average per-kilogramme value of the milled rice exported over the first half was 85.50 US cents, up by 0.94 per cent from 84.70 US cents in the corresponding period last year.

Breaking down the milled rice exports by category, fragrant varieties accounted for the largest share at 207,271 tonnes or 63.35 per cent, followed by white rice types (113,617 tonnes; 34.72 per cent) and parboiled grains (6,312 tonnes; 1.93 per cent).

China was the biggest buyer of Cambodian milled rice over the January-June period, at 168,280 tonnes, representing a 17.44 per cent year-on-year increase, followed by 23 EU countries (98,624 tonnes; up 46.90 per cent) and four ASEAN countries (28,680 tonnes; up 5.69 per cent), while 23 other countries and territories imported 31,616 tonnes, down by 26.28 per cent.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon told The Post that total agricultural exports in the first half of 2022 rose by 13.05 per cent year-on-year, of which non-milled rice crops registered a 12.81 per cent increase. However, he noted, there were some “slight declines” across the statistics for fresh agricultural products, especially in terms of exports to China.

The ministry acknowledges that agricultural exports continue to be held back by a range of issues, highlighting a lack of cold-storage facilities, country-specific sanitary and phytosanitary rules, and Beijing’s cross-border freight restrictions along the Sino-Vietnamese frontier tied to its zero Covid-19 strategy, which have discouraged overland Cambodian exports to China via Vietnam.

Speaking to The Post on July 10, Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body, credited the surge in milled rice exports to efforts and synergy of both the public and private sectors, in light of the CRF’s goal of exporting 700,000-750,000 tonnes of the unhusked grains this year.

However, he declined to provide an estimate for the full-year volume of exports, indicating that more production data would be required to make an informed prediction.

Last year, the Kingdom exported 617,069 tonnes of milled rice, down 10.67 per cent compared to 690,829 tonnes in 2020, according to the ministry.

Yeng also noted that the prices of Cambodian milled rice on the international market this year are similar to those in 2021.