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Chinese to Check Cambodian Rice

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A vendor cleans rice in Phnom Penh. Chinese inspectors will soon come to inspect the local product. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Officials from China will arrive in Cambodia soon to audit and evaluate rice producing companies and to check warehouses.
Officials from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) will soon arrive and carry out auditing and evaluation of registered rice producing companies, rice processors and warehouses, a senior official from the General Department of Agriculture said after a meeting with Cambodia Rice Federation members yesterday.
Hean Vanhan, the agriculture deputy director general of the ministry, said the ministry had sent the first registration list of producers and processors of Cambodia rice to be exported to China.
However, Chinese rice authorities will re-check and re-audit those registered as producers and processors of Cambodian rice before starting imports.
“On behalf of the government, we always guide all Cambodian rice producers and processors to clean themselves by sticking the phyto-sanitary sign in all places in the warehouse and on rice milling machines,” Mr. Vanhan said.
“It is to make sure that the agriculture ministry awards export contracts to China and we also want them to get business after the Chinese auditing and evaluation.”  
He said the exact date for the Chinese inspectors to come to Cambodia has not yet been set, but his Chinese counterpart has suggested the Cambodian side send them invitation letters to do the inspection by the middle of this month.
In December last year, China asked Cambodia to evaluate its rice exporters to determine whether they adhered to hygiene laws in China, because officials in the world’s second largest economy did not trust all of the 71 rice exporters registered with the Ministry of Commerce. They sent them the final registration list of rice producers and processors by the end of December last year and they will come to Cambodia to re-check and re-audit.
“China is strengthening hygiene and food safety standards so they have some conditions for Cambodia to implement for Cambodian rice exporters,” Mr. Vanhan said. “They asked the Cambodian government to re-check whether rice exporters are fully complying with their standards.”
Sok Puthyvuth, the president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said he welcomes the Chinese inspectors’ presence in Cambodia to ensure that Cambodia follows the standards and conditions set by China and to show China that Cambodia has new processing and producing companies to build trust with them to purchase rice.
“Last year, China ordered about 100,000 tons of milled rice from Cambodia and another 100,000 tons this year and we expect to get more orders for the following years after auditing and evaluation,” Mr. Puthyvuth said.
While China is strengthening the phyto-sanitary conditions for rice imported from Cambodia, the European Union recently expressed its concerns about milled rice from Cambodia, saying it was not 100 percent fragrant rice from Cambodia.
The EU concerns were raised in the 9th EU-Cambodia Joint Committee meeting held in Phnom Penh this week. The EU warned that mixed milled rice from Cambodia to the EU would be an obstacle for Cambodian rice to be sold on the EU market. The EU has called for more serious inspections of fragrant rice exported to the EU market.
The Cambodia Rice Federation president said that for weeks the CRF has been working to solve this issue to ensure Cambodian rice adheres to standards. The federation has enlisted international inspectors, the CRF’s representatives and people from the government to make sure Cambodian rice complies with standards to meet the purchaser demand.
Mr. Vanhan said the warning and announcement from the EU was taken on board and that the private sector must show its willingness and honesty to the customer to maintain the EU market.
Song Saran, the CEO of Amru Rice Cambodia, told Khmer Times that if the EU gets good cooperation on the phyto-sanitary conditions from sellers, Cambodia can also ask for DNA testing on its fragrant rice.
“We are calling for the EU to re-check the milled rice arriving and to scan or assign a third party to check the DNA to make sure that Cambodian rice is 100 percent or mixed,” he said.
“Generally, good quality rice is from 80 to 85 percent in a minimum and if mixed it is about 55 percent. We have to check if there is mixed rice,” Mr. Saran said.
He added that the private sector has already shown honesty, but there is one or two companies which do not comply with the rules.
“We could not guarantee that all members of the CRF are honest, but we have laws, policies, codes of conduct and seriously
punish or withdraw export licenses from those who don’t comply,” Mr. Saran said.

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