Cambodia exported 221,027 tons of milled rice in the first seven months of the year, an increase of 103 percent compared to the same period last year, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.
Officials and rice experts said the increase in exports was thanks to rising demand for rice on world markets coupled with increased investment in rice milling.
Figures from the ministry also show that the value of the exported rice over the seven-month period totaled $149.6 million, a rise of 96 percent compared with the previous year.
The government has set a target to reach exports of 1 million tons of milled rice by 2015 in an effort to compete more with neighboring markets Vietnam and Thailand and improve the livelihoods of farmers.
David Vichet Van, deputy secretary general of the Alliance of Rice Producers and Exporters of Cambodia, said the 1 million-ton target had helped local investors in particular to pour more cash into the rice sector.
“Since the [government has] thrown its weight behind the rice sector…Cambodian rice is being gradually known and accepted in the international market,” he said, adding that more than 50 percent of exported rice from Cambodia was now made up of more expensive fragrant varieties as opposed to the cheaper long grain white rice.
Still, he said that Cambodia has a great deal of work to do in order to compete with countries such as Burma, which had begun exporting more rice on international markets.
“Our most direct competitor now is Myanmar since they also benefitted from EBA [Everything But Arms] tax free import privileges [from the European Union]. Their long grain white rice is way cheaper than ours and their logistics and infrastructure cost is also much lower than ours,” he said.
Another rice type that has seen a large increase in production and quality is organic rice.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said he expected that yields for organic rice during the next harvest season in January would increase by 165 percent to 900 tons of milled brown and white compared to the last harvest.