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Rice Harvest Soon but Still No Help

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:

With less than three months to the rice harvesting season in November, panic has now set in among rice millers and producers who feel less confident as the days go by that they will be bailed out by government emergency loans ‒ to help them tide over heavy losses incurred during a prolonged drought early this year.
Phou Poy, owner of the Phou Poy Rice Miller in Battambang province, told Khmer Times that due to a severe lack of funds, millers and rice producers this year might not be able to buy paddy rice from farmers during the November-December harvest period.
“We are very worried. Our funds are very limited and commercial banks that we have got loans from previously might be strict in allowing us to borrow more money this year. This will also affect farmers because they would find it difficult to sell their harvested paddy rice,” said Mr. Poy.
Cambodia had its worst drought in half a century early this year, causing a sharp downfall in paddy rice production that affected the operations of rice millers and producers. Despite recent rains, many parts of Cambodia still do not have enough water for this year’s wet season crop and this seems worrisome.
“Many rice millers and producers are still trying to recover their losses from the previous season. Now they just don’t have enough funds for this season,” said Song Saran, an executive officer of Amru Rice Processing Factory.
“In the upcoming rice harvesting season many of these millers and producers might go broke, unless the government steps in,” he said.
In June, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) announced that the government agreed to make out loans of between $20 million and $30 million to help rice millers purchase paddy rice from farmers after the harvest this November to store in warehouses and process for export. The loans were to be made to CRF, using the Rural Development Bank (RDB), with the foundation acting as guarantor.
But three months later, the loans have yet to be made and bureaucratic red tape in the Ministry of Economy and Finance has been blamed for the stalemate.
However, Kao Thach, executive director of RDB, remains confident the loans would be disbursed on time.
“Though there is no definite date, I am confident the loans can be given to rice millers before the harvesting season,” he said.
The under capacity of local rice millers and rice producers could see the Kingdom flooded with cheaper quality staple grain from Vietnam and Thailand.
 “We cannot compete with this cheaper quality rice and we urge the government to limit their import,” said Amru Rice’s Mr. Saran.
Hun Lak, vice president of CRF, said the federation was setting in place measures to help rice producers, rice millers and rice processing factories. He said that the work needed time and called for cooperation among rice millers and producers.  
“Rice millers and rice producers have to join hands to ensure a sustainable supply of milled rice that will guarantee prices based on supply and demand,” said Mr. Lak.

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