Next month the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) will hold the sixth edition of the Cambodia Rice Forum, bringing major stakeholders in the sector together to discuss the future of the local rice industry and create a joint effort to ramp up production and exports.
The three-day event, scheduled for January 16-18, will open with remarks from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the first day.
Riddled with sub-standard infrastructure, high logistical and production costs and tougher competition abroad, the local rice industry has been struggling to turn profits and remain competitive.
During the forum, participants will deliberate on which local rice brand should be pushed on the international stage. One local brand will be selected and given priority in marketing campaigns that seek to promote Cambodian rice to international buyers.
Representatives of companies and farming associations will also discuss solutions to problems that continue to plague the rice industry and devise long-term strategies to tackle them.
Hun Lak, the CRF’s vice-president, said the main problems afflicting the industry are a lack of adequate warehouses and an inefficient marketing system. He noted, however, that storage infrastructure is slowly improving.
“We are sparing no effort in boosting cooperation among stakeholders. They need to come together to ramp up production,” he said.
“They must increase quality while reducing expenses…production costs must be slashed to improve the production chain.
“Our strategy is to strengthen the quality of our fragrant rice and to find mechanisms that allow us to expand our export markets. Cambodian rice still has a great deal of potential in the global market.”
Mr Lak also commented on recent efforts by Myanmar and Vietnam to increase their share of the European market, with both Asean nations now negotiating trade agreements with the EU, and restated the need to ramp up efforts at home to increase quality and keep up with the competition.
“Cambodian rice is now competing with the big players of the international market,” he said, “so we need to believe in ourselves, in our product, while sparing no effort to produce the best product we can.”
Mr Lak said local farmers do not need to lose sleep over Italy’s recent request to reduce imports of Cambodian rice to the EU, arguing that Cambodian rice still enjoys sufficient demand in the Chinese and European markets.
During the first 11 months of this year, Cambodia shipped more than 562,000 tonnes of rice abroad, an increase of 17.2 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a report from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.