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Rice Exports Halted Amid Price Worries


The Ministry of Commerce will halt the export of rice for two months, following a price spike nearly nationwide that has left many Cambodians worried.

Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh issued a statement late Wednesday declaring a halt to the export.

The ministry earlier in the day provided 200 tons of state-owned rice to sell to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom province, which have been hardest hit by high prices.

High-quality rice has climbed from 3,000 riel to 4,500 riel per kilogram in the capital. Poor-quality rice has gone from 1,800 riel to 2,500 riel per kilogram.

For Cambodians below the poverty line, 1 kilogram of rice per day is all they can afford, leaving them lacking in other food.

"A salary of only 400,000 riel per month is not enough for living, considering the price of rice is rising," said Phrum Phearun, a high school teacher in Phnom Penh. "I cannot teach well, because my mind sticks to a concern over the price of rice."

In Phnom Penh Wednesday, the Commerce Ministry sold 20 tons of rice directly to consumers at 1,800 riel per kilogram.

In a public speech Tuesday, Hun Sen sought to quell rumors of a rice shortage, which has led to a price increase. Hun Sen said at an opening ceremony for a pagoda in Kampong Thom province that the price hike was due to an increase in international demand.

The Philippines and Malaysia are considering importing rice from Cambodia, and Thailand and Vietnam already buy rice from Cambodia, he said.

The rising price of oil worldwide can affect the cost of rice, he added, blaming "saboteurs" for driving up the market price, as well.

The rising price has made farmers happy, but Kong Chandararoth, an economist and director of the Cambodian Institute for Development Studies, said the unusual price rise can lead to inflation and a decrease in investment.

This can disrupt the economic system, he warned.

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