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Cambodian rice to achieve worldwide fame, new CRF president promises

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly (centre) at CRF’s annual meeting and election ceremony. CRF

Cambodian rice will be recognised around the world for its quality and sustainability, the newly-elected president of the Cambodia Rice Federation has promised.

Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice and now also president of CRF, said last week during CRF’s annual meeting and election ceremony that he aims to turn the rice sector into a sustainable and competitive industry that improves the lives of all involved.

Mr Saran, who will hold the new position until 2022, said the federation should be run as a public-private-producer partnership, and that modernising the industry, diversifying markets and enhancing access to finance will be prioritised.

“In the decade ahead, I believe the most important challenges for the sector will be globalisation, digitalisation, populism, and protectionism. These have the potential to negatively impact low-income producers and farmers as well as the competitiveness of the sector,” Mr Saran said.

“[To overcome these challenges], we must work closely with all stakeholders, including government agencies, non-government agencies, local and international institutions, agriculture cooperatives, and the private sector, particularly rice millers, to improve the competitiveness of the value chain, from the farm to the market, and create innovation, extra value and new products,” he said.

The Cambodian Rice Federation was established in 2014 with 213 member representing exporters, farmers and millers. The number of members has now reached 292.

The association’s establishment followed the government’s pledge to reach one million tonnes in rice exports. Although the Kingdom is now an important rice exporter, it has yet to reach that goal.

The association’s first president was Sok Puthivuth, who held the position until Mr Saran took over last week.

Mr Saran said the federation must work to overturn a system that exploits farmers and produce chemical-doused goods that may harm consumer health.

“We will promote partnerships between private actors and low-income producers that address inefficiencies in rice production and trade and nurture innovation, sustainability, fair trade, and competitiveness.

“These business initiatives promote inclusion as well as innovation and market growth,” Mr Saran added.

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon praised the sector for its achievements in recent years but called for greater cooperation among all actors to continue developing the industry.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has been working to reform policies, modernise the sector and promote public-private-producer partnerships that focus on increasing quality and competitiveness through contract farming schemes,” Mr Sakhon said.

The country’s exports of milled rice rose 3.7 percent during the first seven months of the year to reach 308,013 tonnes. China continues to be the Kingdom’s biggest market, purchasing 123,361 tonnes from January to July, a 40 percent increase.

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