The day length varies from 11 hours 29 minutes to 12 hours 48 minutes without twilight. Mean maximum and minimum temperature range among 30 to 36°C and 21 to 25°C respectively. Annual rainfall is 1,343 mm mostly during May to November. The national economy of Cambodia similar to many other developing countries are largely based on agriculture and income-earning opportunities. 90% of Cambodian population makes its living from agriculture. Agricultural development becomes important not only for food and livelihood security of the rural families, but also as a support for industrial progress.
Most of Cambodian farmers are poor and live under extreme agroecological, socioeconomic constraints and fear of unrest of war.
The poor farmers with small and scattered holdings are surviving on rain fed, mono cropped and rice based farming. Cambodia is rice exported country of mid 1960s has now annual shortage of about 50 000-70 000 tons. Out of exported rice, Cambodia has also exported many agricultural products such as timbers, fish, maize, rubbers, soybean, ground nuts, sesame, jute, cotton and tobacco.
These products have been used very low by Cambodian people, because of lacking technology and facilities to improve qualities for food consumption. Agricultural sector in Cambodia contributes about 45 percent to the GDP, and more than 80 percent of the population earns their livings from the agriculture.
Apparently, a process of agricultural development is considered to be an effective approach to promote the economic growth with a broadest possible base. Nonetheless, the development of this sector is mainly constrained due to the exceptionally low productivity if compared with the neighboring countries.
Research on agricultural development in developing countries has clearly shown that the fundamental problem of agricultural growth is an agricultural education as it plays a vital role in providing qualified manpower for agricultural requirements and conducting agricultural research, thus providing farmers with new techniques of production and new input. Indeed, innovation of technology and management capacities for more intensive and modernized griculture becomes paramount to maximize agricultural output to ensure food security and to alleviate rural poverty in the country. Needless to say, this can be accomplished through the upgrading of human resources employed in the sector at all levels from the basic education to higher education. Cambodia has two rice crops each year, a monsoon-season crop (long-cycle) and a dry-season crop. The major monsoon crop is planted in late May through July, when the first rains of the monsoon season begin to inundate and soften the land. Rice shoots are transplanted from late June through September. The main harvest is usually gathered six months later, in December.
The dry-season crop is smaller, and it takes less time to grow (three months from planting to harvest). It is planted in November in areas that have trapped or retained part of the monsoon rains, and it is harvested in January or February. The dry-season crop seldom exceeds 15 percent of the total annual production. The per-hectare rice yield in Cambodia is among the lowest in Asia. The average yield for the wet crop is about 0. 95 ton of unmilled rice per hectare. The dry-season crop yield is traditionally higher, 1. 8 tons of unmilled rice per hectare. New rice varieties (IR36 and IR42) have much higher yields, between five and six tons of unmilled rice per hectare under good conditions.
Unlike local strains, however, these varieties require a fair amount of urea and phosphate fertilizer (25,000 tons for 5,000 tons of seed), which the government could not afford to import in the late 1980s. The main secondary crops in the late 1980s were maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, soybeans, sesame seeds, dry beans, and rubber. According to Phnom Penh, the country produced 92,000 tons of corn (maize), as well as 100,000 tons of cassava, about 34,000 tons of sweet potatoes, and 37,000 tons of dry beans in 1986. In 1987 local officials urged residents of the different agricultural regions of the country to step up the cultivation of subsidiary food crops, particularly of starchy crops, to make up for the rice deficit caused by a severe drought.
Animal husbandry has been an essential part of Cambodian economic life, but a part that farmers have carried on mostly as a sideline. Traditionally, draft animals water buffalo and oxen have playe a crucial role in the preparation of rice fields for cultivation. In 1979 the decreasing number of draft animals hampered agricultural expansion. In 1967 there were 1. 2 million head of draft animals; in 1979 there were only 768,000. Cambodia’s preferred source of protein is freshwater fish, caught mainly from the Tonle Sap and from the Tonle Sab, the Mekong, and the Basak rivers. Cambodians eat it fresh, salted, smoked, or made into fish sauce and paste.
A fishing program, developed with Western assistance, was very successful in that it more than quadrupled the output of inland freshwater fish in three years, from 15,000 tons in 1979 to 68,700 tons in 1982, a peak year. After leveling off, output declined somewhat, dipping to 62,000 tons in 1986. The 1986 total was less than half the prewar figure of some 125,000 tons a year. Saltwater fishing was less developed, and the output was insignificant, less than 10 percent of the total catch. According to the First Plan, fisheries were projected to increase their annual output to 130,000 metric tons by 1990. II. Potentiality of paddy production in Cambodia Paddy Production Wet rice is a unique crop in many ways: It is a traditional, reliable and appreciated stable food • It provides a livelihood for many people (for example some 75 percent of the people living in the Lower Mekong Basin) • It can grow in places that are unsuited for other crops, including waterlogged or inundated areas • It can be stored for months – or years, if need be • It is rather robust towards pests, and very robust towards weeds • It can be raised within the period of a monsoon rainfall – Water for cultivation Having developed in a context of abundant water availability, traditional wet rice cultivation is not water-efficient at all. Production of 1 kg milled rice can require the availability (if not consumption) of 3-6 m3 of water, including various losses and return flows.
The monsoon rainfall in Cambodia, where most paddy fields are rain fed, with others supplied by seasonal flood water, and/or from irrigation. The seasonal variation is rather predictable, but the cultivation has adapted so closely that small deviations from the normal pattern can have a significant effects. This is particularly the case for the ‘small dry season’, a dry spell of perhaps around a couple of weeks not long after the onset of the wet season. A protracted and severe ‘small dry season’ after transplanting can seriously affect the annual rain fed crop. 2. The traditional cultivation systems a. Rain fed rice cultivation -The cropping system
Rain fed rice cultivation is linked to the rainfall. Over the centuries, the timing and duration of the cultivation cycle have adjusted accordingly, depending on local soil conditions. Due to uncertain rainfall, risk aversion is a strong consideration in choice of technology and in technological innovation for rain fed lowland rice. Traditionally, seeds are produced simply by retaining a portion of the harvest. Better seeds can make a visible difference, both regarding yield and robustness, but must be bought from the good seed keepers in the local area at intervals of a few years. Also, fertilizers can highly improve both the yield and the resilience of the crops.
However, the opportunity for its application depends on the rainfall. The size of the land holding is important to the viability of cultivation of rice as well as many other crops. Land holdings in Cambodia tend to be minimal. One among other reasons is the increasing population combined with generation shifts. – The farming system Traditional farming systems provide a balance between the availability of land, water and labor, in response to household needs and market demands. Paddy cultivation is highly labor-intensive during transplanting and harvest, but less so in other periods, and not at all outside the cultivation season. Therefore, it can conveniently be combined with other occupations.
A traditional Cambodian farming system would comprise paddy cultivation, livestock and palm sugar production. Today’s farming systems can be more diverse. Examples of their elements are, A typical Cambodian cultivated landscape is recognised by its sugar palms. A sugar palm can produce 25-50 kg sugar per season (which is 5-7 months), providing a supplementary occupation and cash income. Trees that are unproductive for sugar can supply leaves for thatch-making, mats or rice bins, and can eventually be used for construction and fuelwood. Sugar production is labor-intensive and can compete with Labor for other purposes. Also, it requires fuelwood. It is regarded as a hard way to earn an income and is now in decline. The agricultural value generation Cultivation generates a substantial value ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ of the farm level, in connection with production and supply of inputs, and processing and distribution of outputs. Rice milling is capital-intensive and is provided by specialized operators outside the village. The millers often serve as wholesale buyers. They may provide loans to the farmers with the next crop as collateral, or the rice can simply be sold some time before it is harvested. Few Asian paddy farmers have direct access to (or exposure to) an open market. Some countries see a rather monopolized distribution at the wholesale level.
Many governments try to square the circle between appropriate revenue at the farm level and affordable food to the urban poor, applying gentle or more strict regulation of trade and/or prices. Conditions can be quite different for crops other than rice – an aspect that can favor a certain crop diversification. b. Irrigated rice cultivation – The cropping system Small parts of rain fed rice areas have irrigation or supplementary irrigation. A higher reliability of access to water reduces a major risk and provides opportunities for innovation, provided that technology, skills and inputs are available. This requires coordination of the development of irrigation services and agricultural education and services.
Where raw water is available for dry season irrigation, it becomes possible to raise two (or perhaps even three) crops per year – an obvious opportunity, so much more because the dry season yield is much higher that the wet season yield (due to the higher sunlight radiation from clear skies). A shift from one to two crops require a shift from long-duration to medium- or short duration varieties. For example, a medium-duration variety can be grown in the wet season and a short-duration variety in the dry season. – The farming system Sharing an irrigation system requires an even stronger collaboration than rain fed cultivation, and ability to collaborate is one of the several success criteria for new systems. Farmers Water User Communities (FWUCs) are promoted by Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MOWRAM) in support of de-central support to operation and maintenance.
Some of these work well, while many others are in need of consolidation, faced with complex new challenges and a need of close collaboration. If water is available but sparse in the dry season, a part of the land can be cultivated with crops other than rice. The soil quality, taken as a given without irrigation, get a new significance in connection with the new potential cropping opportunities. Soil conditioning becomes a new requirement in connection with crop diversification in areas that are not immediately suited for crops other than rice. Land becomes an even more precious production factor when irrigation is available, as reflected by a higher price.
This makes sense, because of the higher revenue that can be generated, but it also imposes a pressure on the land ownership in case of social shocks, such as failed crops or illness in the family, where households risk to lose their land and turn to sharecropping. This is a visible tendency in newly irrigated areas. The need for supplementary occupations remains, one reason being the moderate income generated from rice cultivation. Households that combine paddy cultivation and livestock will typically earn more from the latter. Cattle and buffaloes can feed on marginal lands unsuited for cultivation, and on by-products such as straw, husk and bran. They provide manure, and draft animals can generate a cash income from transport and ploughings.
Further, cattle and buffaloes provide capital for emergencies (such as medical treatment costs in case of illness in the family). – The agricultural value generation A second annual crop will highly benefit from more external inputs – seeds and fertilizer- and will in turn supply much more rice to the market, considering that a substantial part of the first crop from a small land holding is consumed by the household. This amplifies the value (and livelihoods) generated before and after the cultivation – hopefully to the benefit of the farmers as well as society as a whole. 3. Traditional gender roles There are some traditions in connection with the task allocation between the household members.
These traditions are not strictly observed, however, and all hands are at work during busy periods. 4. Trends Traditional paddy cultivation is developing in response to challenges, such as for example: • A stronger market demand for crops other than rice – including vegetables and biofuel crops, as well as a stronger demand for meat; • a stronger competition for raw water in the dry season, related to development of irrigation infrastructure and intensified cultivation; and/or • a stronger exposure to competition, related to improved transport infrastructure, porous borders, and regional and international promotion of lower trade barriers.
Also, inevitably, modern lifestyles will reach even remote, traditional farming households. A cash income is needed for clothes and kerosene (or electricity where available), and every household strives to achieve a TV, a hand phone, and a motorbike. In many cases, this requires paid off-farm employment by one or several household members – typically young adults, who migrate to the towns in search of work. III. Quality a. Milling and reprocessing plants Milling and reprocessing plants are being upgraded with high capacity and modern technology to ensure quality of rice. The global milled rice trade in 2010 has been estimated at around 31. 3 million tons, compared to 29. 7 million tons in 2009.
However, the demand for the import of medium and low-quality milled rice has been on the increase in Asia, due to the weather problems in the Philippines, crops failure and reduced subsidy on fertilizers in Indonesia, as well as the requirement by some countries in the region to fill in reserve stock. It is estimated that milled rice trade in Asia may reach 14. 5 million tons in 2010, and at the same time, the milled rice price may increase and fluctuate. Overall, the regional and global milled rice trade has high growth potential for the medium and long term, but there are some down-side risks, due to factors such as changes in prices resulted from changing economic and political landscape in every country across the globe.
The potential for increasing milled rice trade could be attributed to factors such as population and economic growth and globalization that imply changes in lifestyle and taste in rice consumption. However, the global milled rice markets are protected and highly subsidized because of its political sensitivity and paddy rice growing tradition being important in the context of national religion and food security. Nevertheless, such developments provide an opportunity for Cambodia’s milled rice export into the global markets. Milling Rice Cambodian farmers take immense pride in having commenced construction of International standard rice mill in Cambodia.
The state-of-the-art high capacity paddy-to-white rice mill in the Udon region is anticipated to be commissioned in Q3 2012 and represents the first of multi-phase investment strategy and deep-rooted commitment to the country. Significantly larger milling lines are planned for commissioning throughout 2013-2015. The complete milling operations are being designed from the ground up by world-renowned rice experts with unparalleled expertise in advanced rice milling process and technology currently used by the world’s most successful rice millers. The advanced mill design will provide immense flexibility in processing capacity enabling us to handle large scale paddy in short harvesting periods without affecting quality.
All mills will be fully equipped with state of the art rice milling, grading, sortexing equipment from Japan and modern packing facilities to ensure consistent production of products to the highest standards whilst meeting the highest stringent quality and safety requirements of the national and international food and retail industries. Utilising multipass technology consisting of whitening and polishing, we can ensure efficient removal of bran and an extremely clean white appearance to the individual rice grains. Our optical sorters look at each individual grain of rice detecting shape, length and colour which guarantees uniformity and an average grain length.
Reprocessing plants Until recently, Cambodian farmer didn’t have access to high-quality rice seed. For years, the farmer did what most Cambodians do when it’s time to plant their fields: use leftover seed from a past harvest. But the quality of the resulting crops tended to be poor, producing rice that was often pale brown, small, and lacking in aroma. As a result, buyers and rice millers offered low prices, and his sales and income suffered. Almost of Cambodian farmer finally has access to high-quality seed. On the advice of program agronomists, since 2000 they planted a small test plot of the Phka Rumdoul variety to be used exclusively for re-planting.
Phka Rumdoul is one of 10 rice varieties recommended by the Cambodian government for their high productivity, quality, and market value. Cambodian farmer harvested the test plot four months later to great success. Though the initial plot was small at 1,500 square meters, the harvest provided enough seed to plant his entire farm of five hectares next season. Program agronomists estimate that the improved seed – combined with Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia planting methods – will save them an estimated 70 percent on seed inputs and increase their sales by roughly 100 percent, both through increased production and higher prices when he sells.
Lack of high-quality seed is a major hindrance to Cambodia’s rice industry. If the country hopes to reach the government’s target of exporting 1 million tons by 2015, Cambodian farmers must improve the quality of their product to make it more desirable to overseas markets. Increasing access to high-quality seed – in addition to good agricultural practices and improved marketing techniques, both of which Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia is addressing – is crucial to this happening. About 5,352 rice Cambodian farmer receiving technical assistance from Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia, a number that will grow to 30,000 over the life of the program.
They have no doubt that Phka Rumdoul can find a market outside of Cambodia. “These seeds are high quality. You can tell just by looking,” they said one recent afternoon, sifting the grain through his fingers. “With good seeds and Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia techniques, I’m confident that I can produce high-quality, tasty rice. ” b. Good and fertile soil condition and fertilizer usage Farmer use limited chemical fertilizer and natural fertilizers to its actuality: produce high yield and good quality paddy and good tasted rice. Fertile soil condition At the time of writing this report there were no data available on the degree of erosion in Cambodia.
But because of the high vulnerability of soils to erosion in Cambodia and the accumulated impact on agriculture and the environment, attention urgently needs be given to the problem. That need is underscored by the following facts: – Some 63 per cent of Cambodia’s forests are located in mountainous watershed areas (Ministry of Environment, 1994), much of which has been extensively logged, deforested or degraded. Loss and reduction of the vegetation cover leads to exposure of the soil to sunlight and heavy rainfall, which speeds up the decomposition rate and therefore decreases organic matter in the soil. The process also brings about changes in the physical and chemical soil structure.
Consequently, the soil undergoes crusting, and the water filtration, and water and nutrient retention capacity are reduced. The end result is intensive run-off and erosion; – Some provinces in Cambodia, sheet erosion can be seen as silt which has collected behind cut logs and stumps in the fields, while rill erosion occurs in some fields only three months after clearing and burning the forest for farming. When that occurs, the actual amount of top soil being lost, measured from the top of the remaining grass and tree stumps to the soil surface, is an estimated 1 to 1. 5 cm. The fact that rill erosion has already begun in some places suggests that the yearly top soil loss is very serious.
Farmers have reported that yield decreases about 20-25 per cent in the second year of cultivation, and about 40-50 per cent in the third year on wards. Soil loss through erosion can be observed at coffee and hevea farms where the natural vegetation cover has been completed cleared, leaving the soil surface uncovered between the rows of young seedlings. Erosion occurs not only in the upland areas but also in the lowland areas. In practice, water run-off occurs on all land, and the top soil is lost when no protective and conservation measures are in place. In Cambodia, however, few people understand that erosion is a serious problem in the rain fed lowland areas.
In addition, population pressure in the rain fed lowlands is triggering a chain of events which will lead to intensive run-off, erosion and a reduction in the groundwater recharge. Those events include: – Excessive collection of fuelwood from woodland and forest areas; – Overstocking and overgrazing (although the number of animals is increasing, the fodder supply is decreasing); – Increased run-off of water from rice fields. Because dikes in some areas, for example, in Svay Rieng, are not high enough to contain rainwater, the run-off contains a great of nutrient. Fertilizer usage The average rice yields in Cambodia over the past five years have been relatively constant, varying between 1. 2 and 1. tons/ha in the monsoon season and 2. 5 to 2. 7 tons/ha in the dry season. During 1995/ 96 a considerable increase in rice yield was recorded: 1. 64 tons/ha in the monsoon season and 3. 0 tons/ha in the dry season (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1995). That rise in yield has been linked to good weather conditions, increased use of fertilizer and the expanding cultivation of high-yielding varieties in the dry season1 . For other important secondary crops the yield has remained relatively constant. The average yield of cassava is 6. 61 tons/ha, sweet potatoes 4. 16 tons/ha, mung beans 0. 78 tons/ha, sugar cane 27. 29 tons/ha and soybean 1. 7 tons/ha (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1995). Soil fertility depends on the agro-ecosystem. There are four important rice agro-ecosystems in Cambodia: rainfed lowland rice; rainfed upland farming; deep-water or floating rice; and dry-season (mostly flood recession) rice. While declining soil fertility is increasingly affecting the rainfed lowland agro-ecosystem, the soil fertility in the other systems can be restored through yearly siltation or through the clearing of forest areas. Unfortunately, the rainfed lowland agro-ecosystem is the most important in Cambodia because that area covers about 85 per cent of the cultivated area of the country.
Rice in that ecosystem is commonly grown on Ultisols and Alfisols (Reyes and others, 1995). Those soils, especially Ultisols which comprise the most common rainfed lowland soil, are sandy, acidic, extremely infertile and low in organic carbon and cation exchange capacity. The rainfed lowland areas are badly degraded, especially where land settlement has continuously occurred over hundreds of years (for example, Oudong in Kampong Speu province, and Bati in Takeo province). In those areas, the soils are very sandy and the top soil has been seriously depleted or eroded. IV. Price, Tax-free and Market of Cambodian rice a. Cambodian rice price in the market
Cambodian rice’s price is competitive, especially fragrant rice. Cambodian milled rice is becoming more popular throughout Asia, particularly in Malaysia, which is the number one importer of milled rice from the Kingdom. The price of Cambodian paddy rice is 30% to 40% cheaper than its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam. This low profit margin is a competitive advantage but unofficial fees, high transportation costs and high processing costs make this less significant. Exporting paddy rice is a lost. If processed domestically, some byproducts such as broken rice, husk and bran can be used as important inputs for aquaculture and animal breeding that enable farmers to earn extra income.
With more investment in modern rice mill facilities, Cambodia can increase its production of quality milled rice for the growing international market and boost the reputation and international recognition of the Cambodian milled rice standards. In this connection, the Royal Government must address the following issues to increase domestic value-added: High electricity price Electricity represents 25% of the total processing costs. This fades Cambodia’s competitive advantage and the situation can be worse taking into account high and volatile oil price. High energy price is an obstacle to the expansion of the irrigation systems. In the low land Mekong plain, petroleum products are used to pump water into irrigation canals. Therefore, high energy prices limit the ability of farmers to plant two paddy crops a year and to increase yields.
For instance, urban dwellers pay 18 – 20 cents per kWh, while those living in the rural areas are forced to pay up to 30 – 90 cents, compared to 10 cents in Vietnam. Unreliable supply and high electricity price force rice mills to use their own diesel generators which cost them 12. 60 dollars or 2. 2% per ton of rice, compared to 23. 38 dollars or 4. 1% per ton if electricity is used instead. High transportation cost Poor transport infrastructures such as roads, railways, warehouses, and handling equipment increase rice price. To transport one ton of rice on 100-km road, Cambodian farmers must spend 15 dollars, while this costs only 4 dollars and 7. dollars in Thailand and Vietnam respectively. Moreover, the number of handling equipment and port-nearby warehouses are not adequate, a major challenge for rice export especially during rainy season. Lack of access to and high cost of credit Lack of access to and high cost of credit decrease domestic value-added and hinder milled rice export. Limited access to credit, both for working capital and investment outlays, represents an obstacle for rice millers to stockpile paddy rice and modernize their processing machineries. However, given the sound and vibrant banking system and a large amount of available credit lines, the capital and the costs of financing should not be a problem.
The problem is that bank intermediaries do not clearly understand the risks and the expected returns from agriculture investments, as the majority of bankers believe that agriculture is a high risk and low return sector. Moreover, lack of borrowers’ financial information and records make it more difficult for the banks to assess the repayment capacity and the status of the borrowers. b. Tax-Free for Cambodian rice export Nowadays, Cambodian rice can export to some countries in the world is tax? free, e. g. , the EU Countries, Russia and China. However, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has issued a prakas that will exempt rice producers from a 1 per cent tax in a bid to stimulate rice production and exports.
The prakas, or edict – dated October 11 and signed by Minister of Economy and Finance – rescinds the tax on rice production and milled rice sales for three years. The move comes as the Cambodian government attempts to close in on its goal of exporting 1 million tonnes of milled rice by 2015. President of Loran Import-Export Company, said was not aware of the prakas, but added that the tax relief would help the country’s rice exports as soon as it was implemented. Rice exporters have long insisted that Cambodia remove domestic rice production taxes, Minister said. Thailand and Vietnam do not have such taxes, and the removal of the tax would put Cambodia on a more equal playing field, he said. “It would encourage exporters, including me, to be more motivated to export”. General director of Rural
Development Bank, said he was not sure of the significance of the prakas yet but he supported the ministry’s attempt to push milled rice production. “The ministry had tried to facilitate milled rice production very much. They have pushed hard for tax exemption of export,”. As a relatively new player in the milled rice market, Cambodia faces a steep learning curve. However, with a surplus of 3. 5 million tons of paddy rice (equivalent to 2 million tons of milled rice), Cambodia has the potential to soon be among the top five milled rice exporters in the world. More importantly, growth in the agricultural sector will translate into more economic opportunities for Cambodia’s vast rural population.
While not a silver bullet, the success of the rice sector is an exciting and potentially crucial driver in Cambodia’s prosperous and equitable development. c. Market Milled rice market is heavily protected and import procedures vary from one country to another. As Cambodia is a new player in milled rice market, it must face a steep learning curve and improve its export capacity to penetrate the international market. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Malaysia imported over 7,000 tonnes of a total 25,700 tonnes exported. Poland is the second-largest importer, importing 5,880 tonnes in the first month of the year, and France the third largest, importing over 4,300 tonnes.
The of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and director of the single-window secretariat for facilitating milled rice exports, said though Malaysia ranked highest for milled rice exports, Cambodia could further capitalist on Malaysian demand for fragrant milled rice. Cambodia needs to diversify its exports to better take advantage of the Malaysian market, Vanhorn added. But Cambodia also still faces challenges in managing the use of different seeds grown in different areas, adding that officials could not always control the quantity of these unspecified seeds “According to these figures, we hope we reach our target, but anything can happen in the future,” Minister said, adding that “rice exports can be affected by many other factors”. The Asian market is huge for rice exporters, with Malaysia importing from Thailand and Vietnam as well.
Malaysia imports a lot of rice to supply its market demand from Thailand and Vietnam, and now they also turn to Cambodia because of competitive prices. Cambodia announced two major bilateral trade agreements last month, with the Philippines and Thailand, that are expected to further expand the country’s rice export sector. Over the last few years, Cambodia has emerged as a major rice exporter in the region, due in large part to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s recent expansion of its agricultural sector. Agriculture, led by rice farming, contributes to roughly a third of the country’s GDP and has immense potential for strengthening Cambodia’s economic growth, accelerating poverty reduction, and improving the living standard of its citizens.
As part of this agenda, in 2010, the RGC adopted a new Policy Paper on Paddy Production and Rice Export, better known as the Rice Policy, to promote diversification of Cambodia’s economic sectors by catalyzing growth in paddy rice production and milled rice export to match the growth seen in the garment and service sectors. In his keynote address at the policy’s launch, Prime Minister said: “The policy aims to ensure that we grab the rare opportunity to develop Cambodia in the post global financial and economic cataclysm. ” If Cambodia’s rice export sector were to reach its full potential, it could produce 3 million tons of milled rice, with the total export value amounting to $2. 1 billion (approximately 20% of the GDP) and an estimated additional $600 million (approximately 5% of the GDP) to the national economy. It would also boost employment and income for agricultural farmers who make up more than 70 percent of the population living in rural areas.
To better understand the bottlenecks in the rice sector, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the AusAID-funded program, “Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain” (CAVAC), hosted a series of consultative forums last year in three provinces – Kampong Thom, Kampot, and Takeo – with stakeholders from the private sector (farmers, seed producers, agro-business owners, exporters) and the public sector (Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, and Water Resources Management, provincial governors, provincial departments of line ministries, and local authorities). Approximately 370 participants attended the workshops and discussed how to create business-friendly environments (i. e. competitiveness and productivity, access to finance, access to markets), and the technical aspects of rice production (use of fertilizers and insecticides, seed categories, and availability of water sources). The insights were frank and eye-opening. Although the challenges are significant, the opportunities for the sector are greater. Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, optimistically predicted that the RGC can achieve its target for milled rice: “With regards to RGC’s rice export target in 2015, we may achieve up to 80 percent of the 1 million tons planned. This should include the milled rice to Vietnamese, Thai, and non-EU markets. ” Implementing a strategic framework like the Rice Policy is just the beginning.
To increase the paddy rice production to meet market demand and promote the export of milled rice, the government must initiate and support a host of reforms in partnership with the private sector. For instance, to solve the issue of credit shortages for buying and processing paddy rice, the government can provide incentives to commercial banks to increase the loan portfolio for agriculture. At the end of the day, the RGC must keep the farmers themselves in mind. Introducing new technologies or improving agricultural practices can only go so far if they are not accepted and adopted by farmers. Donors and NGOs can play a pivotal role in providing support and facilitating the successful implementation of new policies and projects aimed at improving the agricultural value chain.
Though the current global milled rice market is highly protected, Cambodia is blessed with opportunity to export milled rice in the future thank to the increase in domestic paddy rice production and the potential in the world milled rice trade. So far, the performance of agriculture is outstanding especially in terms of productivity improvement and diversification, due to steadfast efforts of the Royal Government and all stakeholders including the participation of farmers. Rice will mainly mean the stunning landscapes of rice fields, yellow at harvest time, bright and liquid during the rainy season, with shades of green meanwhile.
But to a Cambodian consumer and to a Cambodian farmer, as well as to their Government (and to the French economist), rice is the staple crop, a possible “white gold” as the Prime Minister once put it, and a major part of a poverty reduction strategy. Through, the Prime Minister launched a “policy paper on the promotion of paddy production and rice exports”. This is a good and promising example of a cluster approach to Cambodia’s growth strategy. Cambodia is an important but still small rice exporter. Cambodia has been an exporter of rice since 2004, but a large part of the exports was unprocessed (paddy) or even smuggled through the border. Yet Cambodia has abundant land and sits in a region that is both fertile for and in high demand of rice. So far the potential comparative advantage for rice was diluted by various costs, official (e. g. electricity) or unofficial (e. g. llegal check points). Poor coordination of public and private actors was also undermining the potential. For instance weak land titling systems and weak sanitary controls were a constraint that led to limited access to finance, itself contributing to limited value addition. However the significant increase in price in 2008 – and again a rebound in the past few weeks – has drastically changed the economics of the sector. The policy includes a range of actions, from helping farmers to organize in associations and use better seeds, to improving irrigation systems, developing certification systems, strengthening logistics, and facilitating access to finance.
Although I did not get a chance to consult Paul the Octopus as my colleague in Thailand did, the policy makes a strong case for the rapid development of rice exports in Cambodia. Potentiality of Cambodian rice, Cambodia has great potentialities and prospects in paddy and rice production promotion for the supply. Cambodia will be able to produce large quantity of paddy in response to the increasing demand of the world markets. In the future, Cambodia necessarily need to export milled rice in large quantity rather than selling as paddy rice. In fact, high growth in agricultural sector will benefit most Cambodian people who are farmers with their living standard improved. Thus, the Royal Government is committed to promoting paddy rice production and removing all constraints to milled rice export from Cambodia.
Indeed, the success of this policy will depend on actual implementation; and the task is complex and hard to achieve, yet it really requires cooperation, coordination and strong commitment especially by way of improving the leadership and management of all concerned ministries/agencies and stakeholders. The new policy recognizes this new environment and promotes: – coordination of various actors along the value chain, from the rice fields to the export market; – shift from production increase to commercial agriculture; and – Organic rice should be promoted country wide – Link all producer group into cluster and union – Farmers should involved in this industry and form themselves into network – Local and national authority support the industry NGO should provide more capacity building training related to value added – Government should re-check the policy of land investment ( esp. land concession) – Government should rehabilitate the existing irrigation system and build the new ones where there is lack of irrigation system – Government should facilitate to find the loan or provide loan to farmers with low interest rate to ensure that farmers will have enough financial resource to invest in this industry. – Both government and NGO must try to look for and expand the market for organic rice products. – Recognition of the leading role of the private sector and the critical facilitating role of the State.
The Royal Government is strongly convinced that all ministries/agencies of the Royal Government and other stakeholders, including the private sector and development partners, and particularly Cambodian farmers across the country, will join hands in pursuing this mission to bring about development, progress, and prosperity to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Reference 1. Cosslett, Tuyet L. “The Economy”. Cambodia: A Country Study (Russell R. Ross, editor) Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1987) 2. Cambodian Environment Management Project, 1996. Summary report of Phnom Penh and provincial working group meetings on pesticide information and education (Ministry of Environment). 3. Dr. Jan-Peter Mund [jpmun03@yahoo. com] is working as Professor at the University of Eberswalde GIS and Remote Sensing and serves as an advisor to the UN-Water Programme at the United Nations University in Bonn.