Cambodia to play key role in meeting global rice demand

  • A recent study published by nature.com showed that global demand for rice is expected to increase 30 percent by 2050, however, with a “limited scope available for other main rice-producing countries such as China and India”, it will become incumbent on the countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam to close the future deficit. “At present, the region accounts for 26 percent and 40 percent of global rice production and exports, respectively, being a major rice supplier for other world regions such as Africa and the Middle East,” it said. Over the past decades, countries in Southeast Asia were able to increase rice yields. However, there are concerns about whether future quotas can be met, as noted by a research analyst within the publication. “There is now evidence of yield stagnation in four of the six major rice-producing countries in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam)”. Aligning with reports that “the harvestable rice area has remained stable [within the aforementioned countries] or even declined slightly in some countries recently and is under growing threat of conversion for residential and industrial uses”. So, in the absence of land expansion, what can be done to make better use of the available land? A publication titled the ‘Use of Legume Cover Crops to Improve Soil Fertility, Rice Yield and Profits’, co-produced by the DALRM, GDA & CIRAD, details the story of Heng Hour, owner of a family-run rice farm in Boh Village, Rovieng District, who transitioned to Regenerative Farming practices to increase his yields. “We started farming rice in 1979. In the past, the soil was rich and the yield was high. From year to year, the yield decreased due to the loss of the soil fertility, higher weed pressure and diseases.” Heng explained that access to greater water controls helped his yield, but the remaining issue of soil fertility meant that “rice production was still not economically viable”. In November 2019, Hour was invited to a village meeting organised by the agronomists of the Conservation Agriculture Service Center and SmartAgro, a startup specialised in cover crops and bio-products. They presented the use of ‘legume cover crops’ to improve soil health in the community. According to organicgrowersschool.com, a ‘cover crop’ is a crop you “grow for the soil, instead of for your plate”, a practice dating as far back as the Roman Empire. Cover crops add “organic matter to the soil, and add nitrogen in a slow-release way that plants can handle, leading to less nitrogen volatilisation”. After implementing the legume cover crop strategy, Heng saw his yield grow by approximately 1 tonne per hectare compared with the previous year, noting a drastic increase in quality with over 60 percent of his yield being sold under the class one standard. “After the ploughing of the cover crops, I noticed the good smell of the decomposition of the cover crops. I observed many big earthworms and the soil was loose and soft when we walked into the field. After transplanting, the plants grew fast, the rice leaves were dark green, and I observed that the grains were well filled.” The cover crop practice is just one of many ‘Regenerative Farming’ methods that could be used to bolster rice yield and quality without dependence on high concentrations of chemicals. Regenerative Farming is a practice that actually rejuvenates Earth’s ecosystems, as opposed to just sustaining them.
     
  • Cambodia achieves more than 100,000 tons of rice exports in January, February

  • Cambodia recorded an increase in this year’s rice exports for January and February compared to the same period in the previous year. This is according to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released to local news in March 14. According to the statement from the Ministry, in the first two months of 2022, Cambodia exported 103,058 tons of rice, including all kinds of fragrant rice. This is an increase of 26,836 tons compared to the previous year’s exports for 76,222 tons. Rice exports in February 2022 amounted to 50,022 tons which is an increase of 8,073 tons or 19.24 percent compared to February 2021’s export of 41,949 tons. China is the main market for Cambodian rice export. On January and February of this year Cambodia exported 56,385 tons of rice. Cambodia also exports rice to 20 EU countries with a total volume of 26,507 tons and to three ASEAN destinations with a total 9,370 tons of rice export. The country’s exports to other 16 countries have seen a drop in volume with only 10,796 tons of rice exported, which is a decrease of 19.23 percent. Agricultural exports from Cambodia have seen a slight increase as the country begins to recover from the Covid-19 slump.
  • Cambodia sees 31 pct rise in milled rice export in 8 months

  • PHNOM PENH, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia exported 448,203 tons of milled rice in the first eight months of 2020, up 31 percent over the same period last year, Ngin Chhay, director general of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, said on Monday. China remained the biggest buyer of Cambodian rice, he said in a report, adding that the kingdom shipped 159,253 tons of milled rice to China during the January-August period this year, up 19.8 percent over the same period last year. He added that the country also exported 149,848 tons to the European market during the period, up 24.8 percent, and 60,933 tons to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market, up 42 percent. The Southeast Asian nation has exported rice to 59 countries and regions during the period, Chhay said. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has driven high demand for Cambodian rice, predicting that the country's rice export to the international market is expected to reach 800,000 tons in 2020. Cambodia produced about 10 million tons of paddy rice last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. With this amount, the kingdom saw paddy rice surplus of about 5.6 million tons in equivalent to 3.5 million tons of milled rice. Enditem
     
  • European Commission to probe exports of rice from Cambodia

  • THE EUROPEAN Commission has found sufficient evidence to launch an investigation into whether Cambodian rice exported to the EU puts an unfair burden on European rice farmers, potentially imperiling the Kingdom’s tariff-free exports to the bloc.

     
    The investigation was launched on March 16 in response to a request from Italy, which called for “safeguard measures” – most commonly import restrictions or tariffs – to be imposed on rice from both Cambodia and Myanmar, according to a |notification of the investigation published in the EU’s official journal. “Having determined that there is sufficient prima facie evidence to justify the initiation of a proceeding, the Commission hereby initiates an investigation pursuant to Article 24 of the GSP Regulation,” the notification says, referring to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences, which currently grants Cambodian exports tax-free entry in the European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Under the GSP’s Article 24, import tariffs can be re-applied to a product if it is determined that the product “is imported in volumes and/or at prices which cause, or threaten to cause, serious difficulties to European Union producers of like or directly competing products”.
     
    Any re-introduction of tariffs on Cambodian rice could have disastrous effects on the industry. The EU accounted for more than 40 per cent of Cambodia’s |total recorded rice exports last year. The EU Commission’s investigation team has already held their first meeting with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce according to Hean Vanhan, director-general of the Agriculture Ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture. “We are now meeting with the EU, and we have no idea about the result yet,” he said. “If there is no political interference, I believe that the negotiation will not be difficult, as our exports are based on the EBA agreement.” Mum on details  Vanhan declined to provide further details about the meeting. Representatives from the Commerce Ministry could not be reached. Cambodian rice sector |representatives said that the investigation was worrisome, |and questioned the legitimacy |of Italy’s complaint. “Our rice species are different from Italy’s rice, so what they raise up, it is not possible to hurt their local producers,” said Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation. Lak stressed the investigation and subsequent ruling should not be related to the Kingdom’s deteriorating political situation, as did Song Saran, CEO of AMRU Rice, one of the country’s largest rice exporters. While the EBA agreement overall is dependent on certain conditions related to political and labour rights, the specific |clauses underpinning the rice investigation do not mention rights. “The investigation from the EU is a huge concern, and threatens rice exporters and farmers’ living condition,” Saran said, arguing that Italy’s concerns were due to global market factors and not related to Cambodian rice. “The drop down of rice prices impacts not only Italy’s rice market, it is a global issue,” Saran said. “We export only fragrant rice, and the volume is not as big as what Italy is saying.” The share of the EU rice market captured by Cambodian rice has grown from 13 percent five years ago to 21 per cent last year, according to the EU.  Meanwhile, the share of the rice market controlled by European producers has fallen from 52 per cent to 30 percent over the same period. Italian rice farmers have complained about Cambodian rice imports since at least 2014, but this is the first time a formal investigation has been launched by the commission. EU regulations stipulate the investigation must be completed within a year of its March 16 starting date.
  • Cambodia records 10-pct rise in rice export in first 5 months

  • PHNOM PENH, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia exported 257,637 tons of milled rice in the first five months of 2017, up 10 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the latest report on Saturday. The Southeast Asian nation exported its rice to 57 countries and regions around the world, said the report compiled by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export. Three top buyers are China, France and Poland, it said, adding that China imported 88,769 tons of milled rice from Cambodia during the January-May period this year, France imported 33,459 tons, and Poland purchased 23,036 tons. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said in mid-May after returning from a visit to China that China had agreed to increase its import quota for Cambodian milled rice to 300,000 tons in 2018, up from 200,000 tons in 2017. Cambodia produces more than 9 million tons of paddy rice a year. With this amount, it has over 3 million tons of milled rice left over for annual export, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
  • Decision time for rice brand

  • The debate continues on the single brand to be used for Cambodian rice exports. KT/Chor Sokunthea Government task forces will meet this week to finalise a single brand under which Cambodian rice will be exported. Those at the meeting will include the Cambodia Rice Federation, the Agriculture Ministry and the Commerce Ministry.  “We don’t know when the exact date for registration will be because they just applied for registration last week,” said Op Rady, director of the intellectual property rights department of the Ministry of Commerce. “We have talked several times. The CRF wants to use the name Angkor Malis but the Agriculture Ministry suggested it reconsider the name. Hean Vanhan, director-general the general directorate of agriculture, said registration of a single rice brand was the duty of the commerce ministry. Agriculture officials said Cambodia had more than 10 varieties of fragrant rice, and should not single out one as a single brand.  “The CRF selected ‘Angkor Malis’ as the brand, but this is not right because there is already a rice seed called malis,” Mr Vanhan said.  “What the private sector wants to do is to steal foreign branding to make the rice similar to Thailand, since the Thai Hom Mali is already famous.  “If we use ‘Angkor Malis,’ which is specific only to Cambodian premium rice ‘malis,’ it has a different taste to Cambodian fragrant rice such as phka romduol, phka chansensor and phka khnei.  “If customers buy Angkor Malis one day, it may have a different taste when they buy it in the future, even though it carries the same brand,” Mr Vanhan said.  He suggested that a non-specific ‘Angkor Rice,’ with the specific variety written underneath would help clear up the confusion and prevent people from thinking they were buying a specific rice variety when they might be buying a different premium rice. CRF secretary-general Moul Sarith said all documents for brand registration had been prepared but the CRF wanted a common name and agreement from stakeholders.  “We have already summited to the Ministry of Commerce for registration on the national rice branding and we plan to finish by June. “Now we have to meet with Agriculture Ministry to decide the common name and we want all relevant stakeholders to agree a single name,” Mr Sarith said.   Mr Sarith added that after several talks involving CRF management and studies both of the local and international market, the CRF wanted the rice to be branded ‘Angkor Malis’.  “However, the Ministry of Commerce asked us to recheck the name while Ministry of Agriculture suggested that we get a better name. “Thus, we want to have a meeting with Agriculture Ministry and Commerce Ministry to decide the name. We have enough documents for registration. When we finish the meeting, we want to register at the same time,” Mr Sarith said.   Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice (Cambodia) said previously that the long delay in choosing a brand name meant that exporters were still using their own  names for Cambodian rice, such as jasmine rice or fragrant rice.  “We suggest having one name to identify Cambodian premium rice since we don’t want each company having different names and standards for export to foreign countries,” Mr Saran said. “We want Cambodia to have a single brand and standard.” 
  • Vietnam to Sell Bangladesh 1 Million Tonnes of Rice Annually

  • Hanoi. Vietnam will sell 1 million tonnes of various types of rice to Bangladesh annually between 2017-2022 as part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries on Tuesday (23/05), Vietnam's trade ministry said. Bangladesh, facing a rice shortage due to natural disasters and crop failures, wants to buy around 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes of Vietnam's 5-percent white rice immediately and plans to increase rice imports from Vietnam to 500,000 tonnes by end-2017, the trade ministry said in a statement.
  • Cambodia to export more rice to China

  • May 19, 2017 - by Eric Schroeder

     
    Rice
     
    WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — China is expected to become a bigger export market for Cambodian rice, with reports suggesting China will import 200,000 tonnes of rice per year from Cambodia, according to a May 15 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The USDA said Cambodia’s rice millers have shifted their attention to the expanding Chinese market in light of new rules in the European Union that have tightened the residue limit of tricyclazole on rice. Cambodian rice farmers commonly use tricyclazole to control rice blast fungus, but effective June 2017 the E.U. said it will implement a new threshold of tricyclazole residue for white rice — 0.01 mg per kg of paddy — and in December 2017 will implement a new tricyclazole residue level for fragrant rice — at 0.01 mg per kg.

    “Amid rice millers’ concern of the E.U.’s potential ban on Cambodian rice that fails to meet the chemical residue threshold, the government of Cambodia is looking into substitute options and raising awareness of farmers on proper usage of fungicides,” the USDA said.

    Cambodia exported a total of 542,144 tonnes of milled rice in 2016, up 0.7% from 2015. China was the largest destination, importing 127,460 tonnes, a figure that is forecast to grow to 200,000 in 2017, the USDA said. The increase in demand from China is expected to outpace the potential decline in demand from traditional E.U. buyers.

    “Last December, China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) approved 18 Cambodian rice millers for exporting rice to China as part of an agreement signed between COFCO and the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF),” the USDA said. “Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) selected 28 rice millers who have demonstrated competence to meet the requirements for exporting rice into China. The CRF is urging the government to facilitate more access to the China market to offset potential decrease demand from E.U.

    “The cross border rice trade is a vital pathway for Cambodia rice export into Thailand and Vietnam. However, Thailand’s reduction in stock and a production recovery this year show no signs of an increase in import demand. Meanwhile, the cross border trade with Vietnam is robust mostly because of strong demand for Cambodian rice to serve local Vietnamese consumers who prefer quality fragrant rice.”

    Overall milled rice exports are forecast to increase 5% to 570,000 tonnes in 2017, and 8% to 615,000 tonnes in 2018, the USDA said.

     
  • PM: China raises rice quota

  • A team of farmers prepare to plant rice seedlings in a paddy in Kampot province last year.   China has agreed to increase its import quota for Cambodian rice to 300,000 tonnes by next year, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday following his return from Beijing where he attended the Belt and Road initiative summit. In a post to his official facebook page, Hun Sen detailed a conversation he had with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who said China would increase its imports of Cambodian rice from the previously agreed limit of 200,000 tonnes a year to 300,000 tonnes in 2018. The message also said Xi expressed hope that bilateral trade between the two countries would reach $6 billion by 2020. Hun Sen added that during his visit earlier this week he sought to promote Cambodian trade and tourism ties with China. He added that Cambodia will seek to open trade centres in several Chinese provinces to exhibit some of the Kingdom’s export products and provide information related to tourism and investment opportunities. He called for Chinese businessmen to further invest in Cambodia, noting the country’s peace and macroeconomic stability. The Cambodian premier said he was impressed by the outcome of the Belt and Road initiative summit due to its potential to increase connectivity between countries in the region and the rest of the world. The prime minister added that 100 Chinese companies were currently looking to invest in a special economic zone near Sihanoukville, symbolising the strong economic relationship between the two countries.
  • Millers push for China access

  • Rice is harvested from a field using a small harvest machine in Tbong Khmum provice last year.
     
    Rice is harvested from a field using a small harvest machine in Tbong Khmum provice last year. Heng Chivoan

    Millers push for China access

    Wed, 5 April 2017
     
    Amid concerns that the European Union could reject shipments of Cambodian rice, exporters are pushing for more access to China as an alternative market for the Kingdom’s principal agricultural commodity. Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said just 26 Cambodian millers have satisfied China’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, making them eligible to export rice to the Chinese market. However, another 55 millers “have the quality and capacity to export to China” and have requested an inspection by China’s AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) to approve their shipments for export. “We met Ministry of Agriculture officials to seek their assistance in opening the door wider for rice exports to China,” Lak said yesterday. “We hope that officials from AQSIQ China will come to inspect the rice millers’ production lines soon.” According to Lak, Cambodia’s rice industry has struggled since 2015, with about 10 millers forced into bankruptcy and others deep in debt. He said the global market has become increasingly “narrow and strict”, and unless Cambodian exporters can develop new markets the rice industry could soon collapse. The latest challenge to the sector is the EU’s call on farmers to eradicate the use of the fungicide Tricyclazole in rice production. The European Commission has given Cambodian producers of white rice until June and fragrant rice until December to meet its revised threshold levels – 0.01 milligrams of Tricyclazole residue per kilo of rice, far below the current limit of 1 milligram per kilo. While the extent of Tricyclazole use in Cambodia is unclear, Lak said it could be difficult for producers to ensure the compound’s complete eradication in such a short timeframe. “We are concerned that if we cannot comply with their requirement we will lose this market, even though we have requested that the EU give us more time to build our capacity before the regulation comes into effect,” he said The EU is Cambodia’s largest market for rice, accounting for 63 percent of the 542,144 tonnes the country exported last year. China, however, has grown to become a major buyer in recent years, importing 127,460 tonnes of Cambodian rice last year and agreeing to import up to 200,000 tonnes this year. Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the country’s biggest exporters, said that while the EU’s decision to eradicate Tricyclazole poses a challenge, Cambodia’s use of the fungicide was still quite limited compared to its rival rice-producing neighbours. “It’s a new challenge for us, but we should be able to manage as this chemical is not used extensively in rice production here,” he said. “However, the government should control rice imports and smuggling to prevent low-quality [tainted rice] from being mixed in with our exports.” Saran said the Ministry of Agriculture should work quickly to have more rice millers approved for export to China given the market’s size and potential growth. “The 26 [approved] rice millers will not be able to supply the annual quota set by our agreement with China,” he said. Hean Vanhan, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, said rice millers need to understand more about the demands and criteria of buyers in order to compete in international markets. “If they have suitable quality and standards they will be able to export their rice and expand their markets, including in big markets like China,” he said.