Japanese Firm Seeks Cambodian Rice Supplier

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A Japanese firm is now scouring Cambodia for suppliers of fragrant rice, which it intends to ship home, where demand for Cambodian rice is on the rise, an official of the Cambodia Rice Federation said.

A forklift moves sacs of rice in a warehouse in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Moul Sarith, CRF secretary-general, yesterday told Khmer Times that representatives of Tanaka Food Industry Corporation have approached his organisation in search of a partner that will supply them with Cambodian fragrant rice, whose reputation abroad continues to improve after a local brand took home this year’s World’s Best Rice award.

Mr Sarith said that it is the first time the Japanese company looks for rice suppliers in the Kingdom. He said it imports around 100 tonnes of rice from Thailand a year.

Japonica rice continues to be the most demanded variety in the Japanese market, but fragrant rice’s share of that demand – 30 percent – is also significant, he added. He said farmers in the Kingdom are now beginning to plant Japonica to feed the Chinese, Korean and Japanese markets, but that this is being done at a small scale.

“The company has not told us how much they are interested in importing. So far, they just want us to arrange meetings with local suppliers, which is what we are doing,” Mr Sarith said.

The Japanese government has a rice quota in place that limits its imports of the product to just 4,000 tonnes a year, Mr Sarith explained.

“If Japan increases its rice quota, the Cambodian government or CRF would negotiate with Japan to increase our shipments of rice,” Mr Sarith said.

“We could potentially grow more of the Japonica variety if demand from Japan were to increase,” he said.

Mr Sarith said Cambodian rice is gaining popularity with consumers abroad, particularly after Cambodian premium fragrant rice Malys Angkor won the World’s Best Rice award – the fourth time a Cambodian brand has taken home the award.

The ceremony took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, during the World Rice Conference held on Oct 10-12.

Cambodian brands have been crowned the best in the contest on four occasions – in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018.

“This recognition boosts our country’s image, adds prestige to our rice, and gives us more exposure abroad,” Mr Sarith said.

According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia exported 389,264 tonnes of rice in the first nine months of 2018, a drop of 8.4 percent. China continues to be Cambodia’s top export market.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.