FAO Says Prospects ‘Positive’ for Cambodian Rice Harvest This Season

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations says Cambodia’s rice production is forecast to rise 1.5 percent to 6.6 million tonnes this year.

In its twice-yearly Food Outlook released Thursday, the FAO said global rice production was expected to hit a record 508.7 million tonnes, up 1.6 percent from 2019.

The UN agency predicted a “more normal unfolding of the summer rains” this year following last year’s weather patterns which were influenced by El Nino.

“Asia is predicted to spearhead the recovery,” the FAO said. “Increases in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand, where crops were hindered by unconducive weather last year, would drive this rise, while prospects are also positive for Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Sri Lanka.”

The outlook for rice exports is mixed for Cambodia as well as Vietnam. “Given the swift repeal of export restrictions officially put in place earlier this year, expectations that their documented shipments will continue to grow remain unscathed,” the FAO said.

“However, the export outlook is less positive on the unofficial cross-border front,” it added, pointing to “heightened border controls and reduced demand” from China and Laos. This could keep overall Cambodian shipments to around 1.5 million tonnes.

Cambodia banned exports of paddy and non-fragrant milled rice from April 5 to ensure domestic supplies as COVID-19 spread. The ban was repealed from May 20.

The FAO said export restrictions by several countries contributed to steady price increases, with the FAO rice price index rising 12.7 percent in the first five months of this year. But prices declined sharply as the restrictions were either eased or repealed.

Among other agricultural policy developments in Cambodia, the FAO highlighted the December announcement of US$50 million in credit to rice millers to help them buy 300,000 tonnes of paddy from last year’s season.

The FAO also noted the announcement in March that the Ministry of Economy and Finance would monitor market developments and release funds to rice processors to help them buy supplies for storage.

“The move would be geared towards stabilising local paddy prices,” the UN agency said.

Based on production for 2018-2020, the FAO designates Cambodia as a “leading producer” of rice ranking 13th worldwide, slightly behind Japan and the United States.

China and India are by far the biggest rice producers followed by Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Brazil and Pakistan.


Source: Agency Kampuchea Press