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Contract farming lifting farmers’ living standards in Preah Vihear

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
KT/Chor Sokunthea

The harvest season of paddy rice has almost come to an end and rice millers and exporters are now collecting paddy from farmers through contract farming schemes, benefiting more than 5,000 families in Preah Vihear province.

Three local exporters – Amru Rice, Signatures of Asia, and Golden Rice – have entered contract farming agreements with a total of 34 communities in the province. This year the communities will sell those companies a total of 22,461 tonnes of organic rice, Preah Vihear’s Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The body says contract farming benefits 5,341 families in the province. These families cultivate a combined 14,769 hectares of land.

So far this year, Amru Rice has purchased 12,841 tonnes of paddy through contract farming, about 75 percent of its target for 2019. Signatures of Asia, meanwhile, has bought 1,000 tonnes of paddy, about 70 percent of what it intends to buy by the end of the year.

Golden Rice has already met its target for 2019, having bought 3,129 tonnes of paddy as of this week.

Signatures of Asia and Preah Vihear Meanchey Union of Agricultural Cooperatives last month reached a deal on the purchase of paddy rice.

The exporter agreed to buy white (non-fragrant) rice for 1,200 to 1,300 riel ($0.29 to $0.32) per kilogram. The price of Jasmine rice was set at 1,450 to 1,650 riel ($0.36 to $0.4), according to Chan Pich, Signatures of Asia’s general manager.

“We are looking for suppliers of organic rice in Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces,” he said, noting that organic rice fetches 25 to 30 percent more than regular rice in international markets.

Kan Kunthy, vice president of Amru Rice, said they were working with only a few communities when they started contract farming about five years ago. Now, the exporter works in partnership with thousands of families in the province.

He said the company has been working with 9,000 farmers across the country, 5,000 of which grow organic rice.

“Our goal is to expand our contract farming scheme. This will allow us to work directly with farmers and will generate more revenue for them,” he said.

Mr Kanthy said his company will export about 55,000 tonnes of milled rice in 2019, about 10 percent of all rice exports in the Kingdom.

Last week, the government allocated an additional $50 million to the Rural Development Bank (RDB) to expand the credit available to rice millers and rice exporters, aiming to stabilize the price of paddy and allow more of it to be stocked, milled, process and exported.

Signatures of Asia’s Mr Pich said his company is planning to apply for a loan.

“We haven’t done it yet but we will do it soon so that we can collect more paddy in Banteay Meanchey province,” he told Khmer Times.

From January to October, Cambodia exported 457,940 tonnes of milled rice, a 5 percent hike over the corresponding period last year. 184,844 tonnes were shipped to China, according to the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality (SOWS-REF).

Cambodia exported 8,467 tonnes of organic rice to the European Union last year, representing 3.9 percent of all EU organic rice imports. This makes the Kingdom the fifth largest exporter of organic rice in the EU.

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