Cambodia and China signed agreements Friday to establish procedures and quality standards for the export of rice to China and the governments are working on a similar agreement for cassava exports, an official said yesterday.
Hong Narith, Cabinet chief at the Agriculture Ministry, said the Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese delegation to establish procedures for animal and plant exports and a rice export protocol setting standards for quality, food safety and sanitation.
Mr Narith said the two countries had also signed an “action plan” to establish protocols for Cambodian cassava export to China.
“Regarding cassava, it is still just an action plan. China and Cambodia have to work more on that. We hope a protocol for cassava will come out soon,” he said.
Mr Narith said it was now up to Cambodian rice millers to meet the agreed-upon export requirements and tap the Chinese market.
“If any [rice miller] association has rice to export we will check [the rice] against the protocol” requirements, he said.
The Chinese market has so far been closed to Cambodian rice and officials have said the new market could provide a boost to the government’s effort to raise rice exports to a million tons by 2015.
However, experts said it was unclear how much Chinese demand there is for Cambodian rice. China is currently a net exporter of rice.
“We don’t know yet about the export amount. We have to wait and study the [Chinese] market,” said Phou Phuy, president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association.
Thon Virak, director of government-owned rice trading firm Green Trade, said he also had “no idea yet” about the potential Chinese demand for Cambodian rice.
Mr Virak said a future export deal for cassava could be a boon for Cambodian farmers who produce more than 3 million tons of cassava annually.
“In China the price is much higher,” he said, with prices reaching $175 per ton as opposed to around $110 per ton in Vietnam or Thailand.