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In Spite of Flooding, Much Rice to Export Remains

Rice mills factory in Cambodia.
Rice mills factory in Cambodia.

Despite widespread flooding earlier this year that inundated much of the country’s rice crop, millers say they should be able to have enough to export to neighboring countries, thanks to the rain.

Flooding, which lasted from August to October, did not damage crops in some key provinces, said Phou Phuy, president of the Rice Millers Association. The amount of rice for export this year may even be more than last, he said.

“The 3 million tons that we have I expect we can export some rice to Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.

Around 360,000 hectares of land have been harvested so far, according to government figures. That’s only about 16 percent of the land planted annually.

Phou Phuy said the price of rice has also increased, from about $347 per ton to $397 per ton.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to offer more services to rice millers and exporters to reduce red tape and help boost exports. Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he wants the country to export 1 million tons of milled rice by 2015.

Seng Bun Sour, head of a rice miller’s association in Battambang province, said flooding hurt some of the crop, but they expect a 20 percent increase in exports this season. The best rice can fetch around $1,000 per ton in overseas countries, he said.

“I think that the rice this year is much better than last year,” he said.

In Takeo province, Oun Sophal, the head of a farmer’s association there, said the rice harvest that wasn’t damaged by flooding benefitted from all the rain. However, he said, he did not know how much the province would yield, since farmers are still harvesting.

Yong Sang Kama, director of the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the rice crops that were not hit by flooding have done better this year.

The provinces of Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Siem Reap were hard hit by floods, he said, “but some provinces are good.” The rice export is expected to increase, he said, but farmers should make sure to stockpile rice as well.