Despite the devastating global economic effects of Novel Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 – exports of Cambodian milled rice to the European Union saw a 126 percent increase while the Chinese market rose 33 percent in the first two months of the year, according to a report from the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The CRF said that the EU and Chinese markets are the biggest for Cambodian rice. CRF’s Secretary General Lun Yeng told Khmer Times that Cambodia exported 22,753 tonnes of milled rice to the EU from January to February, compared with only 10,080 tonnes in the first two months of 2019.
Lun said the rise of rice exports to the EU is because the tariff on them dropped from $175 to $150 this year. He added the CRF has conducted various campaign on sustainable rice cultivation, fair trade rice and organic rice.
“We have also conducted news conferences in the EU, which markets our rice,” Lun added. He said that in the future exports of brown rice will also increase.
Lun noted the market for Cambodian rice in China was rising significantly. The 33 percent increase mentioned by the CRF amounted to 36,085 tonnes in the first two months, from 27,186 tonnes compared with the same period last year.
He said that although the Novel Coronavirus is hurting China’s economy badly, exports to there are going well. “What we were concerned about was shipments but now we have confirmed they are in place to carry our rice to China,” Lun added.
“Currently, we see fewer ships docking at Sihnoukville port. The port authority also informed us that big vessels are being cancelled because there is no merchandise or raw materials to service, but we use Phnom Penh Port to load products to Vietnam,” Lun added.
Chan Pich, general manager of export company Signatures of Asia, told Khmer Times that his team witnessed the increase for the first two months of this year.
Chan added that the challenge for exporters is that there is the EU-banned pesticide tricyclazole in the brown and parboiled rice. He said mostly this kind of chemical substance is used in September, October and November.
“We exported 1,500 tonnes of parboiled rice, 1,500 tonnes of Jasmine rice and 200 tonnes oforganic rice to the EU,” said Chan.
According to the CRF and Ministry of Agriculture, from in January and February, Cambodia exported about 136,499 tonnes of milled rice, up about 22 percent compared with the same period last year. For the first two monthsof the year, other Asean countries took 18 percent of rice exports and other markets took 14 percent.
Kann Kunthy, vice-president of Amru Rice (Cambodia), told Khmer Times that his company experienced growth in milled rice exports. Amru exported 3,000 tonnes in January, 10,000 in February and expects to export another 10,000 this month, but the challenge remains transportation.
“The growth will be until May and June, but July will be stagnant because of the traditional drought.From September to December there will be a resumption of increased exports.” Kann expects that this year overall rice exports will be much more than last year.