In an attempt to bolster the sale of aromatic rice from Battambang province, officials inaugurated the Battambang Aromatic Rice Shop in Phnom Penh yesterday, a move designed to enhance the product’s export potential to international markets.
Situated near to Phnom Penh Railway Station in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, the new shop is one of two specialized locations–the other is in Battambang city–being used for the sale of aromatic rice from the province, said Seang Suthong, deputy governor for Battambang province.
“It is time that we have a clear shop in a real location in hope of absorbing more customers in Phnom Penh,” he said, adding that consumers in Phnom Penh demand more than 400 tons of rice a day.
“If four percent of Phnom Penh’s demand goes toward our aromatic rice, it will equal to the amount of 40 tons of rice,” said Mr Suthong.
Battambang rice farmers have been working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency since 2008 in a concerted effort to improve the product’s image and make it a more lucrative export.
Last month, the Battambang provincial office held a meeting with officials from JICA, who are helping Battambang farmers to make prominent use of logos on rice bags and in advertisements.
Farmers here are also aiming to take advantage of rising rice prices, which are likely to continue to increase during the coming months due to high foreign demand, according to agriculture experts.
Seng Bun Sor, president of the Rice Milling Community in Battambang province, said milled rice production is projected to increase from 35 tons in 2008 to 800 tons this year.
“We already sell aromatic rice to supermarkets based in Phnom Penh and we will export to other countries,” he said.
Mr Bun Sor estimated Battambang province had more 30,000 hectares of rice fields, a number which falls to 15,000 in the wet season.
So Khon Rithikun, general director of agricultural at the Agriculture Ministry, said a meeting conducted in December showed Cambodia to have more than 2.5 million hectares of rice fields, producing an average 2.76 tons per hectare.