Two months after the government announced its goal of raising rice export levels to 1 million tons by 2015, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday it would take considerable effort to achieve the goal.
Speaking at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen warned that establishing an export connection to foreign markets was challenging.
“The policy of exporting rice is welcomed by the markets, but how can we get into the market? It’s not that simple,” he said.
Raising the example of exporting rice to China, Mr Hun Sen said, “How do we get into the Chinese market? Is the rice quality proper? There has to be work between us and China.”
He did not specify what further challenges Cambodia faced to increase rice exports.
Phou Phuy, president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, said Mr Hun Sen’s remarks were intended to keep officials and rice producers focused on the new rice policy.
“His advice reminds us to try hard to reach the goal,” he said, adding a lack of high quality rice seeds and storage capacity were some of the obstacles to rice export growth.
Mr Phuy added his organization had exported 20,000 tons of high quality rice to the European Union this year. In May, Mr Phuy said his organization’s goals of exporting several hundred thousand tons of rice would be hard to attain because establishing relations with European buyers had proven harder than expected.
Agriculture and trade experts have said consistent high-quality rice shipments were key to setting up links with foreign buyers, while other challenges included upgrading milling and storage technology and expanding rural infrastructure.
Son Kuon Thor, chairman of the Rural Development Bank, said yesterday that millers also needed more access to credit to be able to buy up paddy.
Mr Kuon Thor said his bank hoped to increase its budget from $18 million last year to $50 million in order to provide more loans to millers.
“We can maybe provide $50 million by the end of this year, but Cambodia needs much more,” he said, adding millers would need between $250 million and $300 million in credit to be able to produce about 600,000 tons of milled rice.