FAO Predicts Rice Crop to Match Last Year’s

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that Cambodia’s rice crop this year will equal but not exceed last year’s record yield.

In its July rice market monitor report, issued quarterly, the FAO said that weather conditions meant this year’s rice crop would not reach previously expected levels.

“In Cambodia, a slow establishment of the seasonal rains de­layed plantings of the 2013 main crop, not due for harvest until December,” the report, which analyzes the global rice market, says.

“Based on official estimates, by the end of June area coverage stood nearly 93,000 hectares behind last year’s level at 850,700 hectares.”

The report said that, although there was still time for rice plant­ing to pick up pace and increase the season’s yield, Cambodia was currently expected to produce 9.3 million tons of unmilled paddy rice this year, the same as last year.

This yield would be “200,000 tons below previous expectations, but still a replication of the 2012 record achievement,” according to the report.

On exports, the FAO said Cambodia was expected to export a total of 1.3 million tons of rice, but that most of this would be in the form of unprocessed paddy, which is then processed across the country’s borders in Thailand and Vietnam.

“Cambodia continues to make steady headway in raising its direct milled rice exports through growing deliveries to European markets,” the report reads.

“An April agreement has also opened the possibility to deliver rice to the Philippines’ National Food Authority, with a more recent deal reached for a small consignment to Brunei.”

The government has set a target of milling and exporting 1 million tons of rice annually by 2015. While more rice mills are being constructed amid easier access to credit in the agricultural sector, milled rice exports were only just more than 200,000 tons in 2012.

Hean Vanhorn, deputy director-general of the Agriculture Minis­try’s general department of agriculture, disagreed with the FAO prediction, claiming that the year-on-year growth in Cambodia’s rice output in recent years would continue.

Without giving specific figures for the amount of rice planted so far this year, Mr. Vanhorn said in actual fact there had been rain early in the season.

“Generally, the rice yield has increased year by year because the farmers try to maintain their crops using seeds and fertilizer,” Mr. Vanhorn said.

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