The Ministry of Commerce and Cambodian rice millers are negotiating a deal to export 3,000 tons of rice to Senegal as part of an effort to increase rice exports to African markets, officials said Sunday.
“We are discussing with the Senegalese side to see whether they can accept our proposal,” said Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Mao Thora.
Although the volume of the tentative export deal is small, he said, it could be instrumental in gaining access to African markets.
Last month, the Ministry of Commerce led a trade mission of rice millers and producers from six different provinces to Senegal, a major hub for other Western and Central African countries’ agricultural markets, to explore rice export opportunities.
Cambodian rice is suitable for African markets, said Sour Kheang, a trade mission delegate and vice president of the Rice Millers Association in Kompong Cham province.
“Cambodian rice is of higher quality than African-produced rice and can be kept longer than African rice,” he added.
Sour Kheang said he hoped the export deal with Senegal would be finalized during a Nov 25 trade meeting between eight African countries and Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City. He added the eight African countries had a combined demand of 15 million tons of rice per year.
President of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, Phou Puy, who also joined the trip to Senegal, said there is enough demand for Cambodian rice in international markets but internal problems in the rice sector are preventing growth in exports.
“To strengthen and enhance the export of rice to other markets, the government should curb middlemen from neighboring countries in their buying of quality rice and commercial banks should provide loans to the private sector [to allow it] to buy [more] stock,” he said.
In order to increase their exports to US and European markets, Cambodian rice exporters would first need to equip their mills and factories with more modern technology and produce higher quality rice, Sour Kheang added.