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Rice Price Hike Due to Outside Forces: Expert

Cambodia's position between two giant rice exporters, combined with a rising global demand for the staple, has played a big role in a national rice shortage and rising prices, an economist said Monday.

The government rolled out emergency measures last week to curb the rising price of rice, which was sparked in part by rumors of a rice shortage.

Both Vietnam and Thailand had been buying rice from Cambodia for further export, lowering the supplies of rice and raising its domestic price, Yong Sang Kumar, executive director of the Center of Education and Development of Cambodia said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

"Because Cambodia is located between the two big rice export countries, Vietnam and Thailand, and because of the increase in rice demand in the world market, these two neighbors came to Cambodia to buy our rice to meet their demand," he said. "So they played a role in the rice shortage in Cambodia."

Cambodia was not the only country to deal with a rice crisis in recent weeks. Last week, the Philippines signed a deal with Vietnam to import more than a million tons of rice, and South Korea said it would have to auction off 50,000 metric tons of government-stored rice, to stabilize prices at home. On Monday, India announced it would limit rice exports to boost local stocks.

Kim Savuth, director of Cambodian National Mills Association, said on "Hello VOA" Monday the government's measures had proven positive.

"In general, I notice that the price of rice has gone down a little bit," he said. "Since Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appeal last week, people seemed to have calmed down. People who were stocking up on rice did not come back to buy any more."

Kim Savuth urged Cambodian farmers to reserve their rice crops to ensure that Cambodia would have enough rice to feed its population of 14 million people through the next harvest.

The Cambodian government should come up with an estimate on Cambodia's current rice at hand, to find whether there will be a shortage into December, Yong Sang Kumar said.

This would tell them what measures to take next, he added.