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EU Becomes Top Importer of Cambodian Rice

PHNOM PENH: A report released by the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) says that Cambodian rice exports have reached 58% of their goal for 2023, with 401,699 tons of milled rice shipped to 56 countries in the first eight months of the year, totalling $278 million in revenue.

The January-August exports accounted for 58% of the planned export amount of 700,000 tonnes this year, the report added.

Cambodia exports a variety of rice types to the international market. The largest share is in fragrant rice, followed by white rice, parboiled rice, and organic rice. Since its June report, when China was the leading buyer of Cambodian rice, the European Union has become the top buyer of Cambodia’s milled rice, purchasing 164,682 tons in 2023, followed by China and its autonomous regions with 143,818 tons.

In February, CRF President Chan Sokkheang, expressed lofty goals of increasing milled rice exports to China to 400,000 tons this year. With less than half of that goal met eight months into the year, it looks like the CRF will fall short of both that goal and its yearly goal to export a total of 750,000 tons of milled rice, which has since been reduced to 700,000 tons.

In 2022, Cambodia exported over 630,000 tonnes of milled rice to 59 countries, earning $414 million, while the revenue from unmilled paddy rice exports was around $841 million.

The CRF has set an ambitious goal to export at least a million tonnes of milled rice by 2025. Just last week Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to import 120,000 tons of rice from Cambodia over the next four years at the ASEAN Summit. Only time will tell if the CRF’s export goals will survive the threats of climate change and global economic uncertainty. In August, over 34,000 hectares of rice were threatened by extreme drought in Battambang alone.

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