Loans Offered To Millers To Stem Exports

In an effort to curb the massive sales of unmilled rice to neighboring countries, the Rural Develop­ment Bank has launched a loan program for rice millers, officials said.

The Ministry of Finance has au­thorized the government-run bank to start offering millers in Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Mean­chey provinces a total of $1.52 million in loans, said bank director Son Kounthor.

The goal is to help Cambodian rice millers compete with the higher prices that wealthier Thai and Vietnamese buyers offer Cambod­ian farmers for their paddy.

In Prey Veng province, for ex­ample, local millers have not been able to match the price of $100 per ton that Vietnamese traders are paying at the Neak Loeung ferry stop on the Mekong river, Kim Sa­vuth, president of the Rice Millers Association for the prov­ince, said Thursday.

Because so much paddy is being sold outside the country and rice millers cannot process enough to meet the country’s needs, Cambodia has had to get food aid for people because many cannot afford the high cost of processed rice imported from Viet­nam or Thailand, said Son Koun­thor.

This program is an attempt to remedy the situation and have more rice grown and processed in the country in order to keep rice affordable, Son Kounthor said.

The bank will charge an interest rate of 0.5 percent. However, the loans will have to be paid back with­in six months and some mil­lers are concerned about the short repayment period, Kim Savuth said.

The program was approved late last month following months of dis­­cussions between the government and rice millers.

Millers should use the loans to fill their warehouse with paddy to be processed later, said Phou Puy, president of the national Rice Millers Federation.

The bank will eventually make loans totaling about $2 million available to the country’s 258 rice millers, but at first only three prov­inces will be targeted.


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