The General Directorate of Agriculture on March 25 held a rice harvesting event to mark the first crop of Sen Kra’op fragrant rice 01 (SKO 01), which was grown on about 100ha in Puok district of Siem Reap province.

According to media reports, the event was co-sponsored by Tian Zhao Agricultural Technology Co Ltd, the Cambodian investment arm of a Chinese agriculture company.

Tea Kim Soth, director of the Siem Reap provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post on March 26 that the ceremonial rice harvesting event was held in collaboration with the company to help promote its sales to the public after the upcoming harvest is finished.

However, Kim Soth did not disclose the exact price the firm plans to charge farmers for the rice seeds.

Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), who attended the ceremony, said in a social media post that the rice seeds are “ready for next season”.

However, Yeng did not provide details, saying it was still too early and referring reporters to Ngin Chhay, head of the General Directorate of Agriculture who could not be reached for comment.

Diya Norin, representative of the CRF in Siem Reap province who also attended the event, said the rice harvest ceremonial photo-op publicity event was held at a plantation owned by a Chinese company that leases farm land from Cambodian people to cultivate large-scale crops of rice.

“It was good to push for the production of the Sen Kra’op fragrant rice, because it will increase the reserves as farmers right now lack some rice varieties and this will encourage the use of good pure rice seeds,” he said.

The Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) – under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – said it had released the Sen Kra’op rice variety to the public in 2019 and that it provided a high yield and was of good quality with long grains that are soft when milled.

The rice fetches a premium price at both local and international markets, he noted.

The ministry said that Sen Kra’op can be grown in any season and produces between four and five tonnes per hectare. Its grains are long, clear and transparent and it is widely considered to be of delectable taste.