Rice exports to region rising

Cambodian milled rice exports are gradually lessening their dependency on a single market by expanding their shipping destination in Asia, a sign insiders say is good news for the industry.

Kim Savuth, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters, told the Post yesterday that milled rice exports to European countries, Cambodia’s traditional market, is still increasing, but its percentage share is gradually decreasing. He said the trend of exports to Asian market is on the rise.

“We are able to maintain old market and in addition we can export to new destinations. This is because of our fragrant rice is getting better known,” Said Kim Savuth.

In the first four months of this year, Cambodia exports to Malaysia, Thailand and China, reached 40,500 tonnes, 34 per cent Cambodia’s total overseas exports, according to figures from the secretariat of the One Window Service for rice exports.

The data show that those three countries are among the top five importers that bring in rice from Cambodia, with France and Poland at numbers one and two.

During the first four months of this year, Cambodia exported 118,000 tonnes of milled rice, a 130 per cent increase from the same period last year.

In the past few years, the Cambodian government has signed trade deals with a number of countries, including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and more EU countries to open access to their markets.

While experts agree that the potential is there, David Van, deputy secretary-general of the Alliance of Rice Producers and Exporter of Cambodia (ARPEC), said access to Chinese and Malaysian market is increasing, but added the flow is only fragrant rice.

“The sector’s competitiveness depends on cost, and the cost of milling rice in Cambodia is still high in comparison to other major exporters,” said David Van. “Anyway, our fragrant rice has enough of a competitive advantage.”

Regarding price competitiveness, Cambodian rice millers, exporters and traders benefit from a competitive edge in the European Union market thanks to tax exemptions.

The European Union’s “Everything But Arms” initiative exempts Cambodia, currently on the UN list of Least Developed Countries, from an import tax of €175 (about $224) per tonne for the EU market.

However, Kim Savuth said potential exists not only in the EU, but also China and Malaysia. Cambodian rice is able to go to China, Malaysia, and other countries “if we have more fragrant rice to export”, he added.

“Regardless of trade preferential treatment, our fragrant rice can export to wherever we want and compete.”

China’s rice imports have increased nearly four-fold to about two million tonnes in 2012 and are expected to reach about 2.5 million tones, according to some estimates.  Cngrain.com, an agricultural news website, estimated that China’s 2013 rice imports may total 3.25 million tonnes.

“There is not concern on demand side, but we have to be sure we have enough quality rice to fit their demand,” said David Van.

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Cambodia launches cassava development project under China, UNDP support

PHNOM PENH, May 21 (Xinhua) — Cambodia launched Tuesday the second phase of cassava development project under the support of China and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Teng Lao, secretary of state of Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, said the second phase of the project, which will last until September 2014, was made possible with the funding of 400,000 U.S. dollars from China. “It aims to help a core group of cassava farmers, processors and exporters to meet the quality and quantity requirements to be able to export more processed cassava to China, thus generating more revenue and employment opportunities for Cambodian smallholders in rural areas,”he said.

Cambodia and China signed a Protocol on the Exports of Cambodian Cassava to Chinese Market in December 2010, under which China allowed Cambodia to export its standardized cassava chips to China.

Teng Lao said cassava is the second agricultural crop in Cambodia and plays a very important role in Cambodia’s agriculture and economic development.

He said last year, the country grew cassava crop on an area of 337,440 hectares, producing about 8 million tons of fresh cassava. “About 50 percent of fresh cassava, 40 percent of dry cassava and 10 percent of cassava powder were sold to Vietnam and Thailand, “he said.”And Vietnam and Thailand re-sell those cassava products to international markets, particularly China.”

Agriculture official and project coordinator Ratana Norng said the cassava sector might generate between 200-300 million U.S. dollars worth of”informal”export revenues a year.

Lu Zhouxiang, first secretary at the department of international trade and economic affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said at the event that in the first phase of the project, China had contributed 212,000 U.S. dollars to support 30 Cambodian officials to train in China’s Hainan province on the cassava cultivation techniques in late 2011 and early 2012.

“Based on the successful results of the first phase, the second phase project will help move Cambodian producers, processors and exporters of cassava up the value chain,” she said.”It is our hope that this project will contribute to the Cambodia’ s efforts in capacity building, economic diversification and poverty reduction. ”

Setsuko Yamazaki, country director of UNDP to Cambodia, said that currently, Cambodian cassava farmers, processors and exporters are facing enormous constraints such as price distortions in neighboring countries, lack of information on price and quality criteria of importing markets and lack of access to technology. “Though cassava has become the second largest agricultural crop in term of income, employment, hectares cultivated and exports, there is very little technical assistance support provided to the sector,”she said.

She added that under the project, UNDP would give particular attention to environment sustainability of cassava cultivation, improved standard quality to promote raw and processed cassava exports to China and the ultimate benefits and sustainability for the poor.

Setsuko said Cambodia is now the seventh largest producer of cassava in Asia and projected that the country would move to the fifth largest producer following Thailand, Indonesia, India and China by 2018.

Business Agricultural brokerage firm begins operations

Chief Cambodia Holding, a Hong Kong-based brokerage firm, started its operations in Phnom Penh yesterday. The company aims to strengthen Cambodian agricultural products, a company official said.

The company reserved $100 million investment capital to connect domestic agricultural producers to the market, Director of Chief Cambodia Holding Te Tea Sieng said.

“So far, our agricultural products are searching for a market while the market is waiting for our products,” Te Tea Sieng told reporters.

“We will work on this mismatch, because funding and market access are our specialties.”

Agricultural experts say there are several obstacles hindering growth in the agricultural sector: limited budgets, lack of knowledge about how to improve yields’ quality, and how to access markets.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), said due to limited funding and high interest rates, local firms cannot allocate an agricultural stock during harvest time, which is why products flow out of the country.

“If it is a real investment, this new company will contribute to strengthen production,” he said.

Song Saran, president of exporter Amru Rice Cambodia, told the Post yesterday that shortage of finances to buy paddy from farmers is still the major issue for rice millers.

“If they truly commit and the criteria from the company are acceptable, they will prosper,” Saran said. “However, we need time to build trust whether it is a real investor and a long term operator.”

By Hor Kimsay│14 May 2013│The Phnom Penh Post

Kingdom to reach rice target

Following a considerable increase in Cambodia’s milled rice exports in the first four months of the year, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said he was optimistic the Kingdom’s rice exports would reach the 2015 target of one million tonnes.

With this year’s export figures notably higher than those of the same period last year, Prasidh said he believed exports of milled rice would reach more than 300,000 tonnes in the first six months of the year, mostly absorbed by European markets.

“So, I predict it will be at least 500,000 tonnes or [even] 600,000 tonnes [by the end of this year]. And next year, if it is smooth, one million tonnes can [already] be possible or maybe the figure [of one million tonnes] could be reached before 2015,” he said.

He said the rise in exports could be attributed largely to the completion of high-capacity factories and milling machines throughout the country.

In early April, the Ministry of Commerce signed a milled rice export deal with the Philippines, one of the world’s largest milled rice importers. In August of last year, state-owned milled rice exporter Green Trade signed a deal with Indonesian state-owned DULOG to supply 100,000 tonnes of milled rice per year.

Hun Lak, secretary of the Alliance of Rice Producers and Exporters of Cambodia, said he hoped that Prasidh would push the creation of trade policies that would further boost rice exports.

The figures he had seen so far, he added, led him to believe that Cambodia was unlikely to reach half a million tonnes by the end of this year, as exports would decline gradually from April to October.

“I predict milled rice exports will [reach] 350,000 tonnes this year,” he said, adding that even though the export volume would increase considerably in November and December – when harvesting starts – Cambodia’s exports were still slowed by inadequate ports and too few storehouses.

“We need to gather to work together to handle some remaining work if we want to make one million tonnes [happen] by the year of 2015,” he added.

According to data from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality, Cambodian milled rice exports reached 118,500 tonnes in the first four months of this year compared with 51,466 tonnes in the same period last year.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said he doubted export figures would reach those predicted by Prasidh but said they may be close.

“Cambodia could reach its goal, but some factors still influence the Cambodian rice sector, such as capital and the production of paddy rice,” he said.

By Rann Reuy│10 May 2013│The Phnom Penh Post

Gold resource in northeastern Cambodia estimated at 1.2 mln ounces

PHNOM PENH, May 9 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd. unveiled Thursday that it estimated that gold resource at O’kvau area in Cambodia’s Mondolkiri province could be as much as 1.2 million ounces, the firm’s Managing Director Justin Tremain said.

Speaking during a meeting with Cambodian Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem on Thursday, Justin said the company has conducted an exploration and estimated that the area has gold deposit of up to 1.2 million ounces, much higher than its 2011 estimate of 720,000 ounces.

According to a press release from the ministry, Justin told Suy Sem that the company has already invested 22.5 million U.S. dollars for exploratory tasks and it would conduct a feasibility study towards exploitation in the future.

Renaissance Minerals Ltd. acquired Mondolkiri gold mining resource from Australian OZ Minerals Ltd. last year.

According to Justin, besides the above-mentioned project, the firm has also been exploring gold minerals in Ochhoung area in Keo Seima district of northeastern Mondolkiri province and Pheam Lorp area in Teuk Pos district in northern Kampong Chhnang province.

He said the explorations in the two areas have already cost about 18.5 million U.S. dollars, but the results are not available yet.

Kingdom spending $3m to boost rubber quality

A $3 million initiative to purify the quality of rubber trees planted across the country is intended to spur farmers to plant more rubber, a government official said.

Ly Phalla, director general of the General Directorate of Rubber at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said last week that the project would examine different varieties of rubber and determine the best types for farmers to grow.

He said the project, commenced this year and expected to be completed in 2015, would cover more than 100 hectares of rubber plantations across the country.

“We do whatever we can to purify all kinds of rubber. Any farms examined by me must be posted with a billboard saying ‘recognised by the general [rubber] directorate’, so the farmers will know that planting is not wrong, because it is recognised, ” he said.

He said Cambodian farmers plant around 50 or 60 different kinds of rubber, but only six kinds are particularly popular among farmers.

Mak Kimhong, director general of the Chup Rubber Plantation and president of the Cambodia Rubber Plantation Association, said high-yield varieties of rubber were dependent on the type of soil, and therefore purifying rubber could help it find the right kind of soil.

“Mistakes with planting rubber even one time is wrong for 30 years, so to purify is very good for this agri-industry,” he said, adding that some activities should be done to enhance the quality of rubber output.

According to Phalla, Cambodian rubber plantations grew 31.5 per cent, to 280,355 hectares in 2012, from 213,104 hectares in 2011.

Cambodia has 55,361 hectares of rubber plantations that are ready for harvesting, while the remaining plantations covering 224,994 hectares are still growing. The quantity of dry rubber was 64,524 tonnes in 2012, and Cambodia exported 59,917 tonnes.

Phalla told the Post last week that his officials are drafting a law on rubber for managing the processes of the business in Cambodia, in order to ensure quality for export.

By Rann Reuy  │ 29 April 2013

│ The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia’s rubber exports up 17 pct, but revenues stay flat in Q1

Cambodia recorded a 17-percent rise in rubber latex exports in the first quarter of 2013, but the revenues from the exports stayed flat due to the declining rubber prices on the international market.

During the January-March period this year, the country exported 15,020 tons of rubber latex, up 17 percent from 12,800 tons at the same period last year, showed the statistics of the commerce ministry on Friday.

The export revenues valued at 41 million U.S. dollars during the first quarter of this year–the same amount the country earned during the same period last year, the report said.

Mak Kimhong, president of the Rubber Plantation Association, said the price of rubber latex has declined to 2,450 U.S. dollars a ton on Friday from about 3,220 dollars a ton earlier this year.

Cambodia’s rubber latex has been exported to Malaysia, Vietnam, and China.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday at the closing of the annual conference of the ministry of agriculture that rubber was among the top priority crops in Cambodia and envisaged that international rubber demand would keep on going up in the future.

“As of last year, the government had granted about 1.2 million hectares of economic concession land to companies for rubber plantation,” he said, adding that to date, the country has planted rubber trees on the area of more than 300,000 hectares.

The ministry of agriculture foresaw that Cambodia can produce about 300,000 tons of rubber latex in 2020 when those rubber trees are mature enough to yield.

By Xinhua│ 27 April 2013 │English.news.cn