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Closed Vietnam borders drive down prices of rice on domestic markets

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Trucks loaded with rice in Svay Ontor district of Prey Veng province on July 18. Hean Rangsey

Closed Vietnam borders drive down prices of rice on domestic markets

Farmers in provinces bordering Vietnam are complaining about a drop in the price of rice in domestic markets due to an inability to export to Vietnam because of the closed border, leaving too much supply in Cambodia and not enough demand.

Ath Sophal, a farmer in Banteay Kraing commune of Svay Rieng province’s Kampong Ro district, told The Post that local brokers had dropped rice prices from 900 to 650 riel per kg ($0.22 to $0.16). The drop in price has cost his family millions of riel in income compared to what he could have gotten for it in Vietnam.

“We have no choice because we could not transport rice for sales to Vietnam like before. We also need money to pay our costs which we borrowed from others to plant the rice and also to cover our daily expenses,” he said.

He added that most of the farmers in the district usually transported rice for sale at the market in Vietnam via the Prey Vor international border checkpoint. Their rice could be priced from 900 riel to 1,050 riel per kg there.

But due to recent widespread Covid-19 outbreaks in Vietnam, the Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities had agreed to temporarily close the borders to prevent further spread of the pandemic.

Thorn Moeurn, a police official in Chrey commune of Prey Veng province’s Svay Ontor district, also said similarly that brokers had taken this opportunity to drop their buying prices on the pretext that they spent a lot of money on workers as well as on drying and transporting the rice.

Thorn Moeurn whose has 7 ha of rice crops himself with 4 to 5 tonnes or rice per hectare, told The Post that he spent 1.5 million riel to 2 million riel on buying fertilizer and pesticides as well as ploughing the land, gasoline, harvesting and transporting the rice. But the harvest of rice is 4 to 5 tonnes per hectare.

“Now, brokers in the district dare give the price of only 800 riel for Phka Rumduol rice. Before the borders were not yet closed, Vietnamese brokers, Vietnamese brothers, came to buy it in the village. They paid a price of up to 1,150 riel per kg. So, we lost a profit of up to 1.4 million riel per hectare,” Moeurn said.

Prey Veng provincial agriculture department director Uk Samnang told The Post that he did not expect that the Cambodia-Vietnam border will reopen anytime soon because the Delta variant was continuing to spread.

“For now, we are monitoring the Covid-19 situation. If the Vietnamese side has a drop in the number of new infected people, the border can reopen. But if it continues to rise, it can be delayed longer than this. However, our agricultural officials were coming up with a means to keep the price of rice from dropping further – to keep it at 750 riel per kg,” he said.

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