Cambodia and Bangladesh are preparing the mechanisms and requirements to expand bilateral cooperation towards the export of Cambodian milled rice to the South Asian country, which has reportedly only ever imported a single shipment of the commodity from the Kingdom – some five years ago.
Mohammed Abdul Hye, Bangladeshi ambassador to Cambodia with residence in Bangkok, on August 22 had a working meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon, according to a statement posted on the minister’s official Facebook page.
Hye explained to Sakhon that Bangladesh, which achieved independence in 1971, still needs to import between one and 1.5 million tonnes of milled rice every year to ensure food security for the more than 160 million population, even though rice cultivation in the country is characterised by three growing seasons.
The “aus”, “aman” and “boro” crops are respectively sown in March-April, July-August and November-December; harvested in June-July, November-December and April-May; and account for roughly five per cent, 40 per cent and 50 per cent of total rice production, according to the US’ Foreign Agricultural Service.
Sakhon told Hye that Cambodia has a more than six million tonne food surplus and is currently pushing to improve overall quality, safe packaging and safe processing for export, adding that the Kingdom is more than able to meet Bangladesh’s milled rice demands, the statement noted.
To ensure the successful export of Cambodian milled rice to Bangladesh, the minister presented the delegation with two primary options for review and consideration.
The first would be to work with the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the apex rice industry body, under the existing mechanisms, he said, affirming that the CRF “has the capacity and ability to supply the market as desired and fulfil the needs of the Bangladeshi side”.
The second, as advised by Prime Minister Hun Sen, would be for Bangladeshi investors to set up warehouses or mills, and buy the rice directly from the Kingdom’s “more than 1,000” farming cooperatives to process, store or export to Bangladesh, or engage in contract farming with Cambodian growers, the minister added.
The ambassador hailed the meeting as an opportunity for the Bangladeshi side to better understand the intricacies involved in stepping up cooperation towards exporting Cambodian milled rice to Bangladesh, according to the statement.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng confirmed to The Post that Cambodia only ever exported a single shipment of milled rice to the South Asian country, in 2017 with a volume of “more than 31,000 tonnes”.
“The commitment between Cambodia and Bangladesh to boost milled rice exports in the future is good news for the federation, and we welcome any new initiatives that promote market access, or strengthen cooperation related to agriculture, especially in rice, to the benefit of both Cambodia and Bangladesh,” he said.
The agriculture ministry reported that milled-rice export expanded by 13.24 per cent year-on-year to reach 350,902 tonnes in the first seven months of 2022, which went to the EU (114,380 tonnes; up 47.04 per cent), China (169,766 tonnes, up 10.29 per cent), ASEAN (29,957 tonnes, up 1.71 per cent) and 25 other markets (36,799 tonnes, down 24.45 per cent).