Rice Federation May Rely on Banks, Gov’t For Capital

The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) plans to borrow at least $400,000 for international marketing campaigns if it fails to meet its goal of raising $777,000 for the plans through imposing export fees on its members, the organization’s president said Friday at CRF’s annual conference.

On Monday, the CRF voted to require its members pay an export fee of $0.50 per ton of long-grain white rice and $1 per ton of fragrant rice in order to raise the funds to educate local farmers and market Cambodian rice overseas. 

But on Friday, CRF president Sok Puthyvuth appeared to be somewhat skeptical that the CRF could raise the money through the export fees alone.

Mr. Puthyvuth said the federation may turn to commercial banks or the government to cover costs, or even look further afield.

“I think that there are three sources of funds including, firstly, credit in the country like commercial banks, the RDB [Rural Development Bank], and the Finance Ministry and secondly credit outside the country including large organizations,” he said.

“Thirdly, it is about joint investment between local and foreign companies…. This is also a source of funds.”

Also at Friday’s conference, Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol said the ministries of finance and commerce would borrow $300 million from China to build 40 warehouses and kilns for farmers to dry their rice.

“We will sign a [memorandum of understanding] with China Exim Bank soon, with leadership from the Finance Ministry,” he said.

Mr. Chanthol said the move would help to avoid paddy outflow to neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

A lack of industry capital in Cambodia has long left farmers unable to have their rice processed domestically for export, meaning that they miss out on adding value to their crop and are often pressured to accept lower prices offered by foreign traders.

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