The newly created Federation of Rice Miller Associations plans to launch a Web site called RiceNet to promote Cambodian rice to overseas markets.
RiceNet could also improve the quality of Cambodian rice, providing a platform for geographically isolated rice millers to trade tips on rice production and learn about new technology in the industry, said Phou Puy, president of the millers’ federation.
The pilot Internet project, scheduled to be online in October, is a collaboration of an NGO, an Internet service provider, the World Bank group and the federation.
“It’s very important for us,” Phou Puy said. “With the RiceNet, we can access to the international rice market and advertise our Cambodian rice through it.”
The Mekong Project Development Facility, an operational arm for the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation, will fund the project with $36,500. The Khmer Internet Development Services will serve as a webmaster and the NGO Enterprise Development Cambodia will help collect and disseminate information related to rice markets and technology.
The four parties signed a memorandum of understanding Saturday for the one-year project.
“The Internet is a great tool for small businesses to compete with bigger business counterparts,” said Mario Fischel, visiting regional manager for the MPDF.
According to the agreement, Internet computer packages will be installed at all eight provincial rice millers associations, members of the associations will be trained in using the Internet and a Web site and newsletter in Khmer will be developed.
The Web site is expected to be used for e-commerce between suppliers and customers.
The Web site is the first project for the millers’ federation, which was established in May when the eight provincial associations banded together. About 250 millers now belong to the federation.
Po Samang, executive manager for EDC, which helped organized the associations, said Cambodia’s rice milling industry is not competitive enough internationally because millers here lack information, communication, marketing tools and technology. He said only 20 percent to 30 percent of the rice refined here qualifies for export.
RiceNet “should improve marketing processing and other standards within the sector,” he said.
Sok Siphana, secretary of state for the Commerce Ministry, said that the agro-business is a major area the government wants to promote.
This initiative, he said, will be a model for other commerce sectors.