The newly formed Rice Mill and Food Development Association of Cambodia promised last week to ensure national food security and promote rice exports by strengthening communication between partners in the agricultural sector, the association’s president, Tes Ethda, said Monday.
“We want to urge everybody to form a chain of trade,” said Tes Ethda, who is also general manager of the state-run Green Trade Co in charge of national food security.
A recent marriage of five provincial rice miller associations and the Green Trade Co aims to strengthen ties between rice producers, traders, millers and buyers by facilitating information exchange on the price of goods in domestic and international markets, and offering technical assistance to farmers, Tes Ethda said.
Poor communication among the ministries of Agriculture and Commerce, farmers and millers has created a disorganized business climate, making each player unsure of what the others’ needs are, Tes Ethda said.
He said that while the Ministry of Commerce seeks foreign markets for Cambodian rice, the Ministry of Agriculture is not advising farmers on what kinds of rice those foreign markets demand.
RAFDC members from Siem Reap, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng and Kandal provinces met with Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh last week to consider forming a fund to create a “Rice Bank Project” that would enable millers to buy rice from Cambodian farmers instead of from foreign sources.
Cambodian farmers are often so poor that they immediately sell unmilled rice to foreign markets at low prices, creating domestic rice shortages and forcing Cambodia to buy back its own rice—milled—at higher prices.
Because much of Cambodia’s rice is processed outside the country, rice millers often are left looking for jobs, Tes Ethda said.
Association members agreed to spend $1,000 to purchase office equipment and publish a rice-trading leaflet detailing association regulations.
RAFDC will receive start-up funds for the Rice Bank Project from the local NGO Small-Medium Enterprise, SME Senior Manager Rin Seyhha said.