Cambodia retained a surplus of nearly seven million tonnes of paddy rice in 2021 after deducting domestic consumption, which has enabled the export of milled rice, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries stated.

Ministry secretary of state Hean Vanhorn said that despite Covid-19, paddy rice production maintained a growth momentum last year, standing at about 12.2 million tonnes, up from 10.9 million tonnes in 2020.

“After deducting 13 per cent for animal feed, seed and loss at harvest plus 2.35 million tonnes of domestic food demand, Cambodia has a remainder of 6.9 million tonnes of paddy rice – which is equivalent to around 4.45 million tonnes of milled rice – for sale,” Vanhorn wrote on his official Facebook page on August 28.

When asked by The Post on August 29, Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran noted that yields depend highly on climatic and drainage systems.

“The amount of paddy rice so far is not much higher than last year. To be sure, we have to wait until November or December when it’s the peak harvest season [for jasmine varieties],” he said.

Saran said Cambodian milled rice is now recognised internationally for its good quality and has been receiving increased orders.

As of July 31, milled rice exports to Europe rose by nearly 50 per cent compared to the same period in 2021, and 40 per cent of China’s 400,000-tonne annual quota for Cambodian milled-rice has been reached, he said, adding that exports to China are usually in large volumes from August till the end of the year.

“As long as there is a lot of paddy rice, Cambodia would not have an export market problem,” he said.

However, Saran said agricultural companies and those investing in rice production are now facing challenges related to higher production costs due to rising prices of fertilisers, fuel and weather factors.

CRF data showed that milled rice exports in the first seven months of 2022 amounted to 350,902 tonnes with a total value of $218.17 million, up 13.24 per cent in terms of tonnage compared to the same period in 2021.

In that time, Cambodia exported 1.95 million tonnes of paddy rice to Vietnam worth $487.24 million.

A report by the agriculture ministry revealed that in 2021, Cambodia exported 617,069 tonnes of milled rice, down 10.677 per cent compared to 690,829 tonnes in 2020.