Candidates Vie to Head New Rice Federation

The Ministry of Commerce met with candidates vying for the top job in the newly formed Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) on Monday to assess their applications ahead of the election later this month.

Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Mao Thora met with businessmen and industry professionals including Lim Bunheng, chairman of rice wholesaler Loran Group Plc.; Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Association for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia; representatives of Phou Puy, president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association; and Royal Group chairman Kith Meng.

The elected president will lead the federation, which aims to bring together millers and exporters to strengthen the industry and promote Cambodian rice overseas.

“We want to help Cambodia expand its markets for rice and increase production and sales from year to year,” said Mr. Bunheng.

“We will sell our rice to regional markets, not just let the region’s flow into ours,” he added, referring to Cambodia’s integration into the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

The association hopes to meet the government’s ambitious target of exporting one million tons of milled rice by 2015. Last year, total rice exports reached just 378,856 tons. There has been a disappointing start to 2014, with exports 11 percent lower from January to March compared with the same period last year.

Although two of the candidates, Mr. Meng and Mr. Taing Por, are not heavily invested in the rice industry, Mr. Taing Por said he believes he has the contacts and know-how to solve the issues hampering the sector, such as lack of sophisticated machinery and access to high-quality seeds.

“I am running for the president of CRF because…I want to help achieve the target of exporting one million tons of rice in 2015,” he said. “I can go to find markets for rice of Cambodia and raise the problems to the government for solutions.”

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