Plans to Boost Agricultural Exports and Increase Rice Prices in 2023

The Ministry of Agriculture has pledged to implement various strategies to boost agricultural exports and assure rice prices in 2023
The national headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Fisheries in Phnom Penh. Photo by Anton L. Delgado for Southeast Asia Globe
The national headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Fisheries in Phnom Penh. Photo by Anton L. Delgado for Southeast Asia Globe

The Ministry of Agriculture's strategy to boost exports, particularly farmers' rice costs, will be strengthened in 2023.

Yang Saing Koma, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, and a minister attached to the Prime Minister, said that the strategy is to guarantee that farmers have high-quality seeds that are in market demand.

Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure that farmers have a contract with mills to assure a market and acceptable price for them, he added.

“So, we start with mills that want to work together to generate good seeds that are in market demand, and we will choose farmers who want to produce good seeds in market demand so that they can join,” he said.

He added that he will support them, along with millers and seed producers, to ensure these three characters work together in what is known as the Cambodian rice production and marketing system.

“We hope that in 2023, farmers who join will be able to get better rice prices. For the farmers who are not in the system, it will depend on the market situation,” he said. “However, we will do our best to get farmers who produce rice into the system as soon as possible, which could take three to five years.”

The agricultural sector is expected to grow by 1.1 percent in 2023, up from 0.7 percent in 2022, as livestock and fisheries recover, according to the draft law, "Finance for Management 2023”.

It adds that livestock and fisheries are predicted to rise as a result of higher growth in agricultural product exports, particularly mixed cropping and industries.

Additionally, it will be driven by free trade agreements as well as increasing government investment, particularly in providing financing to boost domestic production.

Theng Savoeun, director of the NGO Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, believes that the agricultural industry will moderately improve in 2023, which will benefit farmers and the population.

“Normally, the growth of agriculture from year-to-year is always developing since everyone has learned the principles, marketing strategies, cultivation, and methods of production or processing as much as feasible or through social media,” he said.

However, the export and sales market for farmers' products is likely to remain stable in 2023, he added.

“It means that market shortages and the cost of farmers' products on the market remain issues as the government's marketing strategies have not been targeted and the government's response has not yet been accepted, which can both push for a solution,” he said.

He said that the Ministry of Agriculture, on the other hand, must prioritise concerns, such as the water system, market chain, and supply provision, to reduce farmers' production costs through technical training and processing.

He added that more government budget should be allocated to the agricultural sector to assist in purchasing agricultural products from farmers, particularly during the growing season.

“The national budget might also play a role in pushing for a solution as it helps avoid lower costs allowing mills to buy milled rice,” he said. “So, this is a key mechanism, and capital considerations are critical for farmers.”

Cambodia exported 637,000 tons of milled rice and 3,467,886 tons of unmilled rice, generating more than $1,255 million in the fiscal year 2022, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation on January 4.

It exported milled rice worth $414.29 million to 59 international destinations, with China accounting for 288,830 tons or 45 percent. A total of 25 European countries accounted for 221,504 tons or 35 percent, four ASEAN member countries accounted for 64,733 tons or less than 10 percent, and another 27 destinations, including Africa, the United States, Australia, Russia, and Ukraine, accounting for 61937 tons or more than 10 percent.

In addition, Cambodia exported 3,477,886 tons of paddy rice to Vietnam in 2022, valued at $841.09 million.

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Agriculture on December 16, Cambodia earned approximately $3.069 million from agricultural exports in the first 10 months of 2022.

It added that Cambodia's main agricultural exports include rice, bananas, mangoes, cassava, cashew nuts, corn, coconut oil, pepper, and tobacco, among others. Cambodia's main export market is China.