As a result of more rice facilities constantly being installed, the price of paddy rice for the 2018-2019 season was between 900 riel and 1,300 riel ($0.22 and $0.32) per kg, an increase on the previous season, according to industry insiders.
Cambodia Rice Federation vice-president Vong Bun Heng noted that the price was a 25 per cent increase on the 2017-2018 season.
The price depends on the type of rice and its quality, with premium paddy rice sold at 1,300 riel per kg, with normal rice sold at 900 riel per kg, according to Bun Heng.
“The price is moving in the right direction now. We expect paddy rice [yields] in the next season will keep increasing,” he said, adding that the rising prices were due to an increase in rice facilities which are able to process more of farmer’s paddy rice.
The Kingdom’s main paddy rice collection season starts from the end of each year to the beginning of the following year.
In 2016, rice farmers in Battambang province, one of the Kingdom’s major rice producing regions, protested a drop in prices by blocking roads to demand government intervention.
Som Song, president of Agricultural Development Chamroeurn Phal – an agricultural cooperative consisting of 288 members on 2,225ha of rice fields in Sangke district’s Raing Kesei commune in Battambang province – said the price is an improvement on the past when farmers could only sell their paddy rice for between 500 riel and 600 riel per kg.
Provincial farmers this season are able to sell their rice for between 800 riel and 1,100 riel per kg.
“When we got into contract farming with rice millers, our prices became secure and there were no concerns about fluctuation."
“When we do not have contract farming, paddy prices fluctuate depending on the broker’s word. However, the price is not as unbearable for us as it was back then [two years ago],” he said.
Path Sarourn, Takeo province’s O’Saray Agricultural cooperative president, said prices in the province reached 1,300 riel per kg for premium rice and 900 riel for normal rice – an approximately 20 per cent increase on the previous year’s season.
“We are happy with the current price. We sell to local rice millers and brokers from Vietnam who give us better prices,” he said.
However, Sarourn said he needs to enter contract farming in order to ensure stable prices in the long term.
Centre for Policy Studies director Chan Sophal said that as the Kingdom’s paddy rice market has entered the international market they now have less control over prices.
“Our rice industry cannot set the price for farmers. There is no way to ensure a good price all the time, unless the government guarantees it. But, that would be difficult,” he said.