Slowing Rice Export Growth ‘Worrisome’

An Agriculture Ministry official said on Sunday that slowing growth in Cambodian milled rice exports—increasing just 0.7 percent last year—was the result of outdated policies and was a concerning trend.

“It is a most worrisome figure,” said Hean Vanhan, the ministry’s director of the general directorate of agriculture.

Rice is displayed at a shop near Phnom Penh’s Central Market last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“There are many reasons, arising from policy adopted in 2010 and which hasn’t been updated,” he added. “Its target was for 2015, and we’re still complying with that previous policy.”

Cambodia’s year-on-year milled rice exports reached 542,144 tons last year, up from 538,396 tons in 2015, according to a report released by the general directorate on Thursday.

The increase of fewer than 4,000 tons was far smaller than the bumper growth of more than 150,000 tons from 2014 to 2015.

According to the figures, exports to Europe made up 63 percent of the total, while China was the largest single export market at 127,460 tons, or about 24 percent. Exports to China grew more than 6 percent last year.

Mr. Vanhan said a new rice export policy was being formulated by the Supreme National Economic Council, and would take into account the ways the last five-year plan had failed.

He said last year’s drought could not be blamed for the slowing exports, noting that the industry had hit its target of producing 4 million tons of surplus rice. By contrast, exports are still barely over half the 2015 target of 1 million tons.

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