Chamroeun MAK, Chairman of AGRIBEE, writes: Despite the inconvenience brought on by Covid-19 and a year after the EU imposed tariffs, Cambodian rice shipments remained strong. 10 million tonnes of rice were produced in the country in 2020, and 690,829 tonnes were exported for a total of $538.4 million, a 11.4% increase over 2019.
Agriculture has always been one of the most significant industries in Cambodia and now makes about 16% of the country’s GDP.
The sector currently employs about 32% of the working population, although as the economy diversifies more, this percentage is likely to decline.
One of the industries least impacted by COVID-19 was agriculture, which witnessed a sharp increase in FDI and a country-wide increase in rice exports of 11.4% in 2020.
The livelihoods of rural households and food security depend heavily on agriculture even in 2020. The sector continues to be at the center of the Royal Government’s development strategy, with “Promotion of Agricultural and Rural Development” serving as one of the cornerstones of the Kingdom’s overall “Rectangular Strategy.”
As the main food source for the nation and a major export commodity, rice cultivation is crucial. As a result, rice paddies occupy 85% of the land used for agriculture.
Four times, in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2018, Cambodia’s fragrant rice has won the title of World’s Best Rice since entering the competition.
“In 2020, Cambodia produced 10 million tonnes of rice and exported 690,829 tonnes for a total of US$538.4 million, an increase of 11.4% over 2019.”
For the growth of the Cambodian economy in the upcoming years, the Royal Government has placed rice exports as one of its top priorities.
However, in January 2019, the European Commission put protective restrictions on Cambodia’s rice exports as a consequence of an inquiry that discovered imports of Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar were causing economic harm to European producers.
Regular customs duties of €175 per tonne have been restored by the EU; these fees were supposed to drop to €150 in 2020 and €125 in 2021. Exports of rice to the EU were considerably decreased by these actions. To combat this, Vietnam and China decided to increase their import quotas of Cambodian rice in 2019 to 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes, respectively.
Despite the inconvenience brought on by Covid-19 and a year after the EU imposed tariffs, Cambodian rice shipments remained strong. 10 million tonnes of rice were produced in the country in 2020, and 690,829 tonnes were exported for a total of $538.4 million, a 11.4% increase over 2019.
However, the primary export market has changed. China currently accounts for 42% of trade (289,439 tonnes) in the country’s rice exports, while the EU and ASEAN represented 29.5% (203,791 tonnes) and 12.5%, respectively (86,899 tonnes). Exports to China were only about 170,154 tonnes prior to the imposition of EU tariffs in 2019.
AgriBee (Cambodia) Plc, a value chain management company, aims to scale up the performance of key players in the agricultural and agribusiness sector and improve operations at all stages of the supply process, to deliver more valuable products to end customers.
Founded in December 2019, the company has been developing BeeApp to provide stakeholders in the sector with easier access to funds, technical assistance and other market-oriented services and support.
The firm identifies these key players as farmers, agri-input suppliers, crop traders, rice millers and exporters, and financial institutions, and connects them through the platform. It places great emphasis on farmers, as one of the most vulnerable actors in the sector.
The app has on boarded 3,000 smallholder farmers, 300 BeeShops, 20 BeeDepo, 20 crop traders, 70 rice millers, five agri-input suppliers, five exporters and two microfinance institutions (MFI).
AgriBee is also lending a hand in arrangements for the collection of 100,000 tonnes of paddy, and contract farming agreements with 12 agricultural cooperatives.