Cambodia exported 16,163 tonnes of milled rice to China last month, representing a 1,156-tonne or 7.7-per-cent surge from the 15,007 tonnes posted in January 2020, according to a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report.
This comes after the Chinese government provided Cambodia an annual quota of 400,000 tonnes of milled rice.
But that trend was not universal across the Kingdom’s export destinations.
The total milled-rice export volume slipped 32.07 per cent year-on-year last month to 34,273 tonnes from 50,450 tonnes, according to ministerial statistics.
Of that, shipments to the EU, ASEAN and other destinations clocked in at 10,985 tonnes, 2,625 tonnes and 3,723 tonnes, marking decreases of 59 per cent, 44.61 per cent and 34.03 per cent.
Fragrant rice accounted for 30,032 tonnes (87.63 per cent), white long-grain rice 3,695 tonnes (10.78 per cent) and long-grain parboiled rice 546 tonnes (1.59 per cent).
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) chairman Hun Lak told The Post on February 1 that the Chinese market is vast and lends a hand of support for Cambodian milled rice, maintaining a prominently stable growth rate for exports.
He said: “China has the most market potential for Cambodian milled rice and many other products.”
He downplayed the drop in exports to other countries, ascribing the loss for the most part to global Covid-19 travel restrictions and an uptick in shipping costs seen since the end of last year.
While milled rice export figures were by and large disappointing, Lak pointed out that paddy sales to Vietnam had enjoyed significant gains. “Since the end of 2020, the price of paddy at the border [with Vietnam] has risen sharply, increasing the flow of paddy across the frontier to the neighbouring country.
“At the same time, there hasn’t been a notable pick-up in millers purchasing paddy to process” for export due to the steep price hike of the grain, he said.
Signatures of Asia Co Ltd CEO Chan Sokheang warned that large-scale paddy sales along the border may adversely affect plans to export milled rice if authorities do not take prompt action.
“We request the government to take further consideration in regards to rice outflow management, paddy production, irrigation and new seed production, as these are paramount to spark growth in Cambodia’s agricultural exports to the international market,” he said.
Cambodia exported 690,829 tonnes of milled rice last year, marking an increase of 11.40 per cent from 2019, according to CRF data. Chinese-bound shipments of the commodity weighed in at 289,439 tonnes, accounting for 41.90 per cent of total milled-rice exports.