China has asked the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture to inspect local companies included in a list of potential rice exporters to the Chinese market.
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The Cambodian ministry agreed to conduct new inspections on the 40 firms shortlisted to act as suppliers of rice to China, said Ngin Chhay, director-general of agriculture.
“China asked the general directorate of agriculture to conduct quality evaluations on the rice millers in the list of potential suppliers to the Chinese market,” Mr Chhay said. “China is only accepting rice millers that can export big amounts.”
Officials from the ministry and the Cambodia Rice Federation will perform the inspections soon, he said.
“This time, we will focus on the areas where these companies source their rice, and we will try to have one company representing one area as to cut down the list,” Mr Chhay said.
Earlier this year, China agreed to increase its import quota for Cambodian milled rice, allowing 100,000 more tonnes of the commodity into its market for a total of 400,000 tonnes.
China currently allows rice shipments from 26 Cambodian firms. Of them, nine have yet to send their first shipment to the Chinese market.
Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodian Rice Federation, said the inspections will be carried out soon.
“With these inspections, we want to ensure that the rice millers meet all the requirements of the Chinese market. We don’t want subpar companies that may damage the reputation of Cambodian rice,” Mr Lak said.
According to Mr Lak, many of the companies in the list do not meet China’s export requirements and face several challenges, including a lack of storage facilities.
To fulfill China’s quota, Cambodia needs at least 40 to 50 approved exporters, he added.
In the first quarter of the year, Cambodia exported 75,214 metric tonnes of milled rice to China, a 59 percent increase over the same period last year.