The ongoing health crisis around COVID19 has affected all walks of life, including the agriculture sector as well. Its impact on farming is devastating and varied across diverse segments that form the agri-value chain.
Mr Lun Yeng, Secretary-General, Cambodia Rice Federation, shared his insights about Cambodia’s rice sector and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on farming in an exclusive interview with AgriGate Global.
Mr Yeng has been working since 2010 in providing business development services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the agro-processing industry as well as being involved in project management for several non-profit organizations.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. The world is in a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rice being the staple food for the majority, what role do you see it playing in ensuring food security in a post-COVID19 world?
Rice still remains the main player for food security in the world. In particular, for Cambodia, milled rice export to the international market is increasing steadily, and it’s expected to reach 1 million tonnes by 2021, while the capacity of milling and paddy producing are responsive to this target market.
Q. Cambodia is amongst the leading rice exporters in the world. How is COVID-19 affecting trade?
Rice sector in Cambodia is non-negative affected by COVID19, both for production and exporting milled rice to the world. As a result, Cambodia still remains as one of the main exporters supplying rice to the world. Within the last 7 months of 2020, Cambodia’s rice export has reached 426,073 tonnes (78.13% are fragrant rice), which is over 38%, comparing to the same period in 2019. Our main export destination, 37% of the overall export volume goes to China, 34% to the European Union, and the rest goes to other destinations.
Q. Phka Rumduol (phka malis) a variety of Cambodian rice was crowned the World’s finest rice at the annual World Rice Conference. Tell us more about the role research plays in developing such good varieties of rice locally.
Phka Rumdul Rice variety was officially released through support from The Cambodia-IRRI-Australia Project (1988-2001) by the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in 1999 after 10 years developing and testing. Since 2000 Phka Rumdul variety have been introducing and convincing farmers, consumer, rice seller to recognized the productivities, quality and market value of this variety and at the end in the year 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018 was awarded as the world best rice by The Rice Trader (TRT) based in the USA.
Phka Rumduol Rice variety is the Pride of Cambodia.
Indeed, the role of Research and Development (R&D) is very essential for developing the innovative for rice’s market, specifically on rice seed purified, such as the Phka Rumdoul, which is responded to the high yield, quality, and adapt to climate change.
Q. How are your farmers doing? What, according to you, are the steps that policymakers need to take to help them through these difficult times?
Cambodian Farmers play an important role in the rice industry, which is about 40% of the total labour market in Cambodia. To support farmers, policymakers shall support them via appropriate financing scheme by developing the model (PPPP): public, private, producer, partnership. This model is linked among all stakeholders from government intervention, and participation from the private sector such as exporters, millers, and bankers, to support farmers in order to produce sustainable rice.
Q. And finally, what is your vision for the future?
Our Cambodia Rice Federation’s vision is to be one of the leading rice suppliers to the world’s market with quality and competitive price. We aim to export 1 million tonne from the year 2021 and achieve sustainable growth year by year.