Cambodia currently ranks 10th among the world’s largest rice producers, both for domestic consumption and export, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).

Chan Sokheang, president of the CRF – the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body – cited a ranking placing six Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia – as the dominant rice producers in 2023.

Indonesia leads Southeast Asia and ranks fourth globally in rice production, with 34 million tonnes, followed by Vietnam with 26.94 million tonnes.

“Cambodia, though a small country, is a major rice producer, processing nearly six million tonnes per year and ranking 10th globally. We are grateful to the government for leading the transformation from a country of food shortages in the 1970s-1990s to a significant exporter,” he said.

Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the ranking is not new as Cambodia has held this position for several years. 

He added that the ministry’s goal is to focus on improving the quality of rice and reducing farmers’ production costs, rather than focusing too much on quantitative production.

“Our goal is to increase farmer profitability, enabling them to produce food surpluses while also focusing on high-quality rice that minimises production costs and strengthens market competitiveness,” he said.

He added that the ministry is also promoting specific rice varieties like fragrant Phka Rumduol and Sen Kra’op (SKO) to increase luxury rice production, while emphasising environmental sustainability through practices that ensure soil quality and food safety.

Sokheang said the federation will review its strategy by focusing on both the quality and quantity of rice for export.

“We must prioritise improving both the quality and quantity of rice seeds to support the livelihoods of our farmers. Some farmers opt for common white rice for its daily consumption appeal, but a stronger strategy would focus on both quality and quantity to diversify production,” he said.

“These [fragrant] rice cultivars enjoy a broad market. To further capitalise on this potential, we should develop the luxury rice varieties, targeting a distinct, high-end market segment,” he said.

A recent report from the CRF details Cambodia’s January rice exports. In total, 46,221 tonnes of milled rice, valued at $32.62 million, were exported through 32 rice exporters to 42 destinations worldwide. The country also exported nearly 600,000 tonnes of unmilled rice to neighbouring countries, valued at over $184 million.