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Cambodia Promises Broken Rice Exports for Africa

By: Chun Sophal The Mekong Times Posted: April-30-2008 in
Chun Sophal The Mekong Times

This will be the first time Cambodia, a major rice producer with a surplus of over 2 million tons last year, has supplied rice to Africa since the 1970s.

Speaking at the inauguration of a KFC fast-food restaurant in Phnom Penh, Minister of Commerce Chan Prasidh told reporters that the deal "is the honor of poor Cambodia to help poor countries."

Allaying fears over supplies for Cambodians, Cham Prasidh said that "there is no problem in supplying broken rice to poor countries in Africa because Cambodian people do not eat this type of rice."

On Apr 26, at the 12th ministerial meeting of the UN Convention on Commerce and Development held in Accra, Ghana, Cham Prasidh was asked to supply about 6,000 tons of broken rice to Senegal and an unspecified amount to Gambia.

Chan Sarun, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said that Senegal's request to buy broken rice was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen late last week, but Gambia's request is still under discussion.

Cham Prasidh said yesterday that a delegation from Senegal will arrive in Cambodia this week to inspect the rice they have ordered.

Many African countries are facing serious food shortages and major purchase deals are needed to respond to domestic demands.

Cham Prasidh said Cambodia was in a position to respond. "Cambodia plans to export ten thousands of tons of this rice type if there are further requests," the minister said. "We hope that according to this demand, our people can sell their rice at higher prices."

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said the government should ensure sufficient food supply at home before exporting to foreign countries.

He claimed many poor Cambodians turn to broken rice when rice prices go up. "We do not believe that only broken rice is exported because presently our management of this issue is still messy," he said.

On March 26 the government imposed a two-month ban on rice exports to ensure food security and prevent the rising rice prices. The price of rice has since dropped to some extent.

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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