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April 2024

Cambodian rice industry looks to compete with neighbours

Premium Quality: Cambodia’s rice production and processing industry has made progress. Xinhua

The Rice Federation of Cambodia has projected that the country’s rice exports for 2023 will increase by approximately five percent to 10 percent compared to the previous year. This increase would potentially result in exports of around 670,000 tons, which accounts for 95 percent of the planned target of exporting 700,000 tons.

Chairman of the Board of the Rice Federation of Cambodia, Oknha Song Saran, emphasized the importance of maintaining reasonable rice exports to protect the local rice industry and farmers’ livelihoods. While Cambodia’s rice exports have been growing slower than neighboring countries, the focus remains on ensuring the sustainability of the sector and the survival of rice mills, even in the face of small losses.

One of the contributing factors to the modest increase in rice exports is the recent shortage of rice for export. Cambodian Mills Federation members have had to compete with Vietnamese traders to purchase rice from higher-priced farmers. This increased competition has led to a rise in rice and paddy prices.

Mr. Saran explained, “I think the growth in 2023 will be around five percent to 10 percent, which is an increase that we can accept. We do not talk much, but our rice is better than neighboring countries in quality and price. If we had enough rice to export, we could increase by 30 percent. However, the reality is that we are currently facing challenges in procuring rice due to the competition with Vietnam. This country has surpassed us in rice drying, warehousing, transportation, and port infrastructure.”

The undersupply of rice for export is also expected to impact next year’s exports. Despite the high prices in the market, mill owners must make extra efforts to collect rice from farmers to remain competitive. Moreover, the situation might worsen in the first quarter of 2024 as Cambodia experiences an early harvest from January to March, potentially leading to a shortage of rice and rice for export. However, with the arrival of the dry season rice harvest, an uptick in export momentum is anticipated from the second quarter onwards.

According to the Cambodian Rice Federation’s report, for the first 11 months of 2023, the country exported nearly 600,000 tons of rice, marking a six percent increase compared to the previous year. This accounted for a total value of approximately $420 million. Additionally, re-exports amounted to nearly 4 million tons with a value exceeding $1.1 billion.

Cambodia’s rice industry is facing both challenges and opportunities. While there are obstacles in procuring sufficient rice for export and competing with neighboring countries, there is a growing recognition of the superior quality and competitive pricing of Cambodian rice. As the industry continues to navigate these complexities, it remains committed to sustainable growth that benefits the farmers, mills, and the overall economy.

“Although Cambodia is currently facing challenges in procuring rice for export, we believe the projected growth of five percent to 10 percent in 2023 is an acceptable increase. Our rice excels in both quality and price compared to our neighboring countries. Despite the limitations, we will strive to compete and ensure the sustainability of our industry,” said Oknha Saran. QR Code

Published Date: December 16, 2023

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