The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has fought back against claims that the current price of paddy is too low to sustain farmers’ livelihoods.
“Despite what people are saying on social media, the price of paddy has not decreased below market price. The current price is acceptable for farmers,” said CRF president Song Saran.
CRF comments follow viral posts on social media platforms claiming the current price level is insufficient to make a living.
At a press conference held at the Council of Ministers yesterday, Mr Saran acknowledged that the price of paddy rice has decreased, but said it is not as bad as portrayed on some social media posts, which he labelled fake news.
According to Mr Saran, fragrant paddy rice sells above 1,000 riel ($0.25) per kilogram, which represents a 10 percent decrease compared with the prices during the previous harvest.
He said the depreciation is linked to a downward trend in the price of milled rice in international markets.
“It is lower than last year, but it is not a big fall and farmers can survive,” Mr Saran said.
He also suggested that the drop in the price of paddy may be the result of farmers planting lower quality varieties. He called on farmers to focus on “purer” rice types.
Mr Saran highlighted a government initiative to stabilise the price of rice. Through the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB), the government is disbursing “emergency” loans to help rice millers purchase and store paddy during harvest season.
The initiative, Mr Saran argued, has kept rice in the hands of millers and away from middlemen who would have sold it to neighbouring countries.
RDB director-general Kao Thach also praised the scheme.
“With warehouses and silos build with loans from the government, millers have money to buy rice from farmers and can store it for longer periods,” Mr Thach said.
Cambodia exported 457,940 tonnes of rice during the first 10 months of 2019. Of this, 184,844 tonnes were sent to China.