The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is helping cooperatives that produce genetically pure Pkha Rumduol rice seeds to boost their output as that variety of rice has high market demand, according to its secretary of state Yang Saing Koma.

Saing Koma was seeking to allay concerns about market demand while meeting Trapaing Russey Cooperative, which has produced around 170 tonnes of Phka Rumduol seeds, in Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district on February 12.

“We explained to them the interconnected system between seed producers, rice producers and mill owners that would help guarantee market shares for both seed and rice producers, while the mill owners would get good quality and pure paddy for processing to sell to the market,” he said.

Saing Koma said the cooperative wanted to expand their production but faced the challenge of a lack of capital – one of the main concerns that he is seeking to address.

Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said that encouraging farmers to grow pure Phka Rumduol seeds would more or less help them. He explained that if farmers use inferior seeds, the germination rate can only be 70 to 80 per cent, but if they use pure seeds it can increase to more than 90 per cent.

He said the CRF, in collaboration with the agriculture ministry, is currently working with cooperatives across the country on the production of pure Phka Rumduol seeds, and he urged farmers to use them.

“We will have a hard time if we go and work directly with farmers – one buyer to one seller – because it takes a lot of time and it will not be efficient. Therefore, we have to work with the cooperatives and urge farmers to work with one nearest to them and pool their resources.

“After we discussed this with the ministry, we identified two varieties as the most desirable: Phka Rumduol, which is exported under the Malys Angkor [certification mark], and Sen Kra’op 01 [SKO 01], both of which have the same high market demand,” he said.

Khun Saem, president of the Ba Phnom Meanchey Cooperative in Prey Veng province, said there are three varieties that they have been producing – Phka Rumduol, SKO 01 and OM54.

However, for this year, the mills have a high demand for Pkha Rumduol and SKO 01, so the cooperative plans to produce more of them.

“Rice seeds produced by the cooperatives are not only sold in Prey Veng but also exported to other provinces such as Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Chhnang. Over the years, the mills in Prey Veng province did not buy a lot of SKO 01seeds, so we did not produce much, but this year they are buying more, so we’ve increased production,” he said.

He said that due to the increasing demand for rice seeds, the Ba Phnom Meanchey cooperative, which currently has more than 226 households participating, will increase the number of its members to promote the production of pure rice seeds of Phka Rumduol and SKO 01in accordance with industry demand.

According to Saing Koma, Cambodia currently produces about 20,000 tonnes of pure Phka Rumduol rice seeds each season and that could increase to 40,000 tonnes in the future.