'But this year, the coveted title—awarded by a panel of judges at the World Rice Conference at the Sofitel Hotel in Phnom Penh—was shared with hommali fragrant rice grown in Thailand.'And though it doesn't mean any extra sales or possible higher prices, it does increase market awareness of Khmer rice.
Phnom Penh Post concludes much the same:
'Sok David, vice-president of Golden Rice Cambodia, said the award has show-cased the Kingdom’s quality.
“If your [client] wants a lower price with specific quality, Cambodia can do it,” he said'.
'Giving Cambodia a makeover was the focus at the sixth World Rice Conference, which was held yesterday at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel hotel.
Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol opened the day’s events calling for better branding of the Kingdom’s products and investment environment.
“We need to do two kinds of branding. One is to do branding on products, and another one is to do branding on our country’s image,” Chanthol explained'.
'Excellency Mr Minister, the world is not illiterate or stupid. Nobody thinks Cambodia is still in KR era. But everybody knows it is a supremely corrupt country without the rule of law and without human rights. So if you are looking for a Brand and for FDI just get those things fixed and the Kingdom will shine as in the Angkor era. Respectfully, FN'.
'China is set to loan Cambodia up to $300 million to build a series of warehouses aimed at assisting the Kingdom’s fledgling rice industry.
The loan is to be used to build more than 10 warehouses equipped with dryers capable of storing at least one million tonnes of Cambodia’s paddy. The facilities will be located along key rural production areas, urban markets and ports along the country’s value chain'.
'A lack of irrigation, rising costs of production and finding new markets to sell their produce are problems that plague Cambodian farmers, attendees at the annual National Farmers Forum were told yesterday'.No news there.
'“Some big developed countries still practise farmers’ protectionist policies as a barrier not to let our products flow into their countries,” he said, without naming any specific nations.
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) procedures, or the rules concerning food safety, and the application of animal and plant regulations on exports were an added barrier, the prime minister said'.Anybody involved with importing (or even exporting) via Cambodian custom officials will also note that less fortunate nations are often hindering all foreign trade ...
However it's mostly the rubber farmers ruffling the feathers of the junta.
Failure by rubber producing nations to agree on cuts in rubber production have seen prices drop resulting in more pain to rubber growing nations and their farmers. Predictably those farmers in Thailand want their government to act.
'The Rubber Planters Rescue Alliance, which demonstrated in defiance of martial law's ban on political gatherings, also demanded the National Legislative Assembly scrap a proposed law aimed at supporting the rubber industry. Coalition coordinator Sunthorn Rakwong claimed the bill won't boost prices because it was drafted mainly by academics, civil servants and politicians."We want the national assembly to scrap the draft because small-time rubber farmers will have very little say in it and it is not a genuine support measure," said Mr Sunthorn, speaking for 14 southern farmer groups, told Reuters. "If the national assembly does not scrap it, then rubber farmers all over the country will rise up and protest."The draft aims to set up a Rubber Authority of Thailand, including farmers and representatives from the public and private sector, to oversee policy and prices. But Mr Suthorn said the plan would not help all farmers, especially who grow rubber trees but don't own land, and rubber tappers'.
'Disgruntled rubber farmers said yesterday that they were giving the government a few more weeks to push the price of rubber up to at least Bt80 per kilogram, or they would kick off massive rallies'.The Bangkok Post the day before than this article notes that the minister can't afford the demanded prices!
'And while Cambodia’s natural rubber export tariffs are set at between 2 and 10 percent, Vietnam has moved to ease the impact on its rubber farmers, slashing export taxes from 5 to 1 percent last December before removing tariffs altogether on October 2'.With larger amounts disappearing into the apparent illicit trade to Vietnam, rubber factories in Cambodia are caught. Unable to meet prices offered in the trade to Vietnam, they can go higher only to see them stuck with produce taxed higher than that of neighbours and thus unsalable ....
And in the Vientiane Times of November 6 farmers from the northern province of Phongsaly are hoping that authorities will help them out with selling their rubber. The answer:
'The provincial authorities asked all the relevant companies to assist the people in their district and proposed the government consider implementing suitable policies for the companies'.Now how will these lessons translate once rice prices drop. Or fail to rise in the coming years?
Further afield, in Nepal after the showing of the film the Seed Wars, there's discussion on how far companies can be allowed to possess seed patents and therefore the future of farming. The discussion was published in the Nepali Times (14-20 November). Besides this article there is also an opinionated article in the same Times, which promotes the use of GMO, but favours curtailing the power of companies.
There is quite a lot of reaction to this point of view to suggest that the author may well be barking up the wrong GMO tree ...
Of course most of the comments oppose this. Two counter arguments: Roundup is highly soluble. Only with wheat is it used shortly before harvest with no moist to either dilute or wash off the herbicide. The other is that setting up experiments to link the two might take decades: maybe it's better to err on the safe side ...
Back in Asia, but yet again off-topic
'He [Deputy Governor of Khua district Mr Phonethavy Xaymonty] added that more farmers have switched from growing rice to growing cardamom which is a positive sign for reducing slash and burn cultivation'.