Rice exporters and millers in Cambodia say the price of white rice is soaring after India suspended exports of non-basmati rice in order to address internal food security issues following the falling yield of paddy rice due to climate change.
On July 20, the Indian government announced that it would stop exporting non-basmati white rice in order to lower the domestic rice price as well as to ensure food security.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice (Cambodia), told The Post that since India announced the ban, importing countries that used to import rice from India have been buying more white rice from other countries, including Cambodia which has led to the price of white rice rising more than 30 per cent.
He said climate change has severely affected rice yields, prompting India to focus on domestic supply rather than export as many other countries rushed to stockpile their rice supply.
“We already know that India is one of the largest exporters of rice. When they announced a suspension of white rice, it pushed up the price of white rice to nearly the same as our fragrant rice.
“Of course, it has given our country the opportunity to export more while providing a good value for our farmers,” he said, noting that the price of white rice has risen between 30 and 40 per cent.
Similarly, Chan Pich, general manager of Signatures of Asia, said the demand for rice globally, especially white rice, has shot up.
“The reason I see this is because of the effect of climate change in Europe, Australia, the US and other regions. They experienced drought earlier this year, which increased the demand for rice, and also because India has stopped the export of white rice and broken rice to meet their domestic demand.
“Our ASEAN countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, which have large populations, have also experienced a shortage of rice. They have ordered a variety of white rice from other ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Cambodia,” he pointed out.
He said rice imports by the Philippines could see Cambodia’s rice exports surging to millions of tonnes given the country’s high demand and consumption by its population.
In the meantime, Indonesia also plans to import rice from Cambodia to shore up its supply, as per a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on August 11.
Cambodia’s milled rice and paddy rice exports in the first half of 2023 stood at $807.9 million.
From January to June, the Cambodia Rice Federation said 329,633 tonnes of milled rice worth $229.2 million were shipped to 52 countries and territories via 50 exporters. The total has so far met 47.09 per cent of the 700,000-tonne target for 2023.
The milled rice breakdown showed that “fragrant rice” represented the lion’s share at 85.08 per cent, followed by “long-grain white” (11.3 per cent), “parboiled” (2.4 per cent), “organic” (1.02 per cent), and “short-grain white” (0.14 per cent).
In terms of export destination, China markets imported the most at 138,364 tonnes worth nearly $89 million, followed by 25 EU countries at around 122,117 tonnes valued at $86.7 million and four ASEAN nations (28,110 tonnes, worth $18.9 million). The remaining 21 markets bought 41,042 tonnes of milled rice for $34.7 million.
At the same time, Cambodia exported 2.2 million tonnes of paddy rice for a total of $578.7 million, exclusively to neighbouring countries where 55 per cent of the produce possessed “appropriate” certifications.