Cambodia exported nearly 2.073 million tonnes of agricultural products in the first two months of 2022, up by over 6.4 per cent year-on-year from more than 1.947 million tonnes, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.

By category, milled rice amounted to 103,058 tonnes, surging by 26,836 tonnes (35.21 per cent) year-on-year, while paddy clocked in at 651,101 tonnes, climbing by 92,068 tonnes (16.47 per cent) year-on-year, Sakhon said in a statement, citing data from the National Phytosanitary Database.

“Other agricultural products besides paddy and milled rice” weighed in at 1,318,642.70 tonnes, up by 0.50 per cent year-on-year, said the statement, posted on the minister’s Facebook page.

The Kingdom’s agricultural exports from January-February were shipped to a total of 52 countries and territories, including markets in Europe, ASEAN and elsewhere in Asia, the statement added.

The minister told The Post on March 1 that Cambodia’s agricultural exports over the period were driven up by an increase in both market demand and production by farmers.

“Given the current circumstances, some countries cannot produce, but Cambodia can – others have high demand for agricultural products.

“As of late, people in a number of countries have been switching out crops and trying new ones for more profitable means. And, Cambodia has a favourable climate – all of these factor into the upswing in agricultural exports seen over the two months,” Sakhon said.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran added that more efficient irrigation systems have been installed across the country, buoying rice production in farmers’ fields, and in turn shoring up exports of both paddy and milled grains.

He said Cambodian milled rice shipments to China have increased significantly after Beijing set an export quota at 400,000 tonnes, boosting formal exports by “almost 60 per cent”. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Pen Sovicheat previously confirmed to The Post that the quota is valid for a period of 17 months from December 2021.

Saran said: “If nothing changes, we will export 750,000 tonnes of milled rice to China in 2022. However, there is still a major challenge: long-distance transportation, and that’s due to a local shortage of storage containers, although things are looking up from 2021, though not by much yet – shipping to Europe is still expensive.”

Nonetheless, he said the commerce ministry and CRF were concentrating more efforts to boost exports to Asian markets, especially ASEAN and other countries where transportation is particularly convenient.

Of note, Prime Minister Hun Sen recently called on Malaysia to look into buying more Cambodian milled rice, at a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the Peace Palace. Ismail Sabri signalled a keen desire to increase trade between the two countries.