Cambodian rice a big hit in China

  • Cambodian milled rice is becoming increasingly popular in China

    KT/Chor Sokunthea

    A senior official in China’s biggest import and export commodity center has praised the quality of Cambodian rice and called for more agricultural products – mainly milled rice – to be sold on the Chinese market.   “Cambodia’s milled rice here has become very popular among Chinese consumers because our main daily consumption is rice,” said Franklin Gnwang, vice general manager of the largest Import and Export Commodity Center (IECC) in Changsha city in Hunan province.   “It sells very well here because your quality is very high.”   Mr. Gnwang, told Khmer Times in Changsha city that after Cambodian fragrant milled rice became available for sale in his center last year, many Chinese people supported the product because of its quality compared with imports from other neighboring countries.   “Cambodian milled rice prices were a bit higher than prices from Thailand and Laos but Chinese people were still buying more Cambodian milled rice due to the good quality.   “We welcome more Cambodian rice to be available for sale here. We do hope to see more Cambodian products and Cambodian milled rice imported to Changsha,” he said.   In October last year, China signed an MoU with Cambodia to import rice with an export quota of 200,000 metric tons.   Mr. Yoy Jiade, an official of the Hunan Jiade Group which owns the IECC said that Cambodian products are at the early stage entering the Chinese market and he hopes to see more imports as Cambodian milled rice is very popular in China.   “I think right now Cambodia is paving the way,” he said.   “In the future we are looking about 1,700 different commodities into our zone. Of course your milled rice is already displayed here and we will make sure that your product is very popular.   “I call on your businesses to come to do business here or to look for partners to do business with.   “Every year we organize 15 to 16 business activities to allow all business people to come together.   “In the middle of next month there is going to be another event, an exhibition of global commodities so business people from around the world will display their products here.”    Mr. Yoy said Cambodian businesses can rent space in the center to display products directly or they can cooperate with a local partner to promote more Cambodian products in China.   He said his center also provides tax incentives for foreign business people.   “We welcome all business people from foreign countries to be here because we provide the whole chain of services from transport to customs clearance, land, air and sea transport and warehousing within our import-export free trade zone.   “I would like your business people to come together to rent a display booth to interact with local customers.   “Of course, you can also cooperate with a local partner as we have a preferential policy for them,” he added.   Mr. Gnwang said, “I think your export volume of 100,000 metric tons per year to the Chinese market is very small so we want to import more rice from Cambodia.”   Cambodia exported 46,387 metric tons of milled rice to China in the first two months of 2017, up 127 percent over the same period last year.   China is the top buyer of Cambodian rice, followed by France, Poland, Britain and the Netherlands, the Agriculture Ministry said.   
  • Rice exports show slow growth

  • Content image - Phnom Penh Post
    A woman harvests rice in a paddy field in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district late last yeaRice exports show slow growth.
    Cambodian rice exports declined dramatically in March, causing the average export growth of the Kingdom’s dominant cash crop to increase by only 3 percent during the first quarter of this year, nearly wiping out the double-digit growth seen in January and February. According to rice export data released by the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday, Cambodia exported a total of 166,678 tonnes in the first quarter this year, up from 162,220 tonnes during the same period last year. While growth in January and February accelerated greatly by 11 percent and 17 percent respectively, the weighted average was bogged down by a 16 percent year-on-year decline for March exports. Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said yesterday that the March declines can be attributed to stricter sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards being imposed on shipments to China, Cambodia’s second largest market after the European Union. He added that only 26 Cambodian millers have been granted official approval to export to China with another 55 waiting to be vetted by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. “A large amount of the millers that used to export to China in the past are no longer able to export there now,” he said. “If the issue over SPS standards cannot be resolved soon, our export figures will continue to decline and this year will not be good.” According to Lak, despite CRF lobbying Cambodian authorities to fast-track negotiations with China to allow increased market access, the body has yet to produce tangible results for its members. CRF has previously warned that the Cambodian rice industry could soon collapse millers diversify and tap into increasingly narrow and strict global markets. In addition to the hurdles of entering the Chinese market, Cambodian millers are also concerned about the EU’s call to eradicate the use of the fungicide Tricyclazole in rice production. The EU has given farmers until June to meet the revised threshold levels on white rice – 0.01 milligrams of Tricyclazole residue per kilo of rice and December for fragrant rice. In the first quarter of this year, Cambodia exported 84,059 tonnes of rice to the EU while exports to China accounted for nearly 40 percent of total exports at 67,482 tonnes. Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the country’s biggest exporters, raised similar concerns about Chinese market access but noted that the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) preemptively submitted a list of only 18 millers, instead of the allotted 26, to China for the current harvest season. He added that while Amru used to export 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of rice to China annually in the past, it has yet to be included by the MoC for Chinese clearance. “Now, we are trying to get into the Chinese market to accelerate our rice exports,” he said, adding that reliance on the EU market had reached a saturation point at about 300,000 tonnes exported annually. “First, we need to send the full list of all 26 companies that have satisfied China’s SPS standards to them so that they will accept our exports,” Saran said. “Second, we need to negotiate with China to allow more companies to export like they were before.” Yang Saing Komar, founder of agricultural organisation CEDAC, said that new market access was the main challenge for the sector after it had been devastated last year by a prolonged drought. “The weather is better than last year as there is a lot more rain which will provide higher yields of rice paddy to be milled,” he said. “Paddy production is not the problem to boost exports. The high cost of processing, increased regional competition and greater market access continue to be the industry’s main challenges.”
  • Second call for rice exports

  • Second call for rice exports

    The Ministry of Agriculture is calling on rice millers to apply for a second round of quality checks for exports to China after only 28 local rice mills, out of 60 which applied for inspection in the first round, passed last year. Rice mills have until the end of the month if they want a share of the 200,000-metric ton allocation to which the Chinese government has agreed for this year. Hean Vanhan, the newly appointed general-director of the ministry’s general department of agriculture, said all local rice mills can apply for the inspection. “Those who failed in the first round can re-apply if they improve and follow our guidelines, as we told them earlier, because we are strict on quality and hygiene and on products that don’t affect consumers’ health,” he said. “After our evaluation, we will send the list to our Chinese counterpart for the last check to approve the number of millers that qualify,” he said. The ministry started their inspection of the 60 millers in October. In November, Chinese experts inspected the quality and safety of the 28 successful rice mills during a week-long visit to Cambodia. All of them passed. However, of the 28 millers, only 18 have been given the green light to start exporting to China, the CRF said in December. The CRF said it and the state-owned enterprise Green Trade Company played a role in facilitating exports and sending the list of qualified local rice mills to China. “After a discussion between the Chinese company COFCO, CRF and Green Trade from December 15 to 17 in Beijing, the three parties agreed to allow the first 18 local rice mills to start fulfilling the export quota as most of these companies have experience exporting rice to China in the past,” the CRF said. CRF vice president Hun Lak said yesterday that the remaining 10 companies that passed inspection were still not sufficiently qualified. He said the millers who had started exporting had complied with the needs and standards of buyers in China because they had a good relationship with each other. “On the other hand, it’s not possible for rice millers who just produce to meet their own requirements and think they can export to China,” Mr. Lak said. “They have to produce to meet the standards and comply with the requirements of the Chinese market. “For that reason, we got requests from other millers for a second round of quality checking. If they comply with the standard required, they will pass and can proceed to export,” he added. Mr. Vanhan said that even though mills passed all the quality checks, the ministry’s technical team still conducted onsite spot checks to ensure the standard of the products. Cambodia’s milled rice exports only grew by 0.7 percent last year to 542,144 metric tons compared with 2015, according to data from the Agriculture Ministry.