Though not significant in itself, the Cambodian PM admits that the country is not going to meet the plans for exports of 1 million tonnes this year. According to the Cambodian Daily (Feb. 18), increased competition is partly to blame as are processing problems.
Export problems though will remain in light of dropping prices thus favouring importers. Oryza.com's rice market overview shows prices continuing to drop, 0,8% over the month, roughly 10% in annual terms.
'Thailand is likely to face difficulty selling rice now that global market demand is slowing amid greater supply and price competition, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association. World rice trade is estimated at 41 million tonnes this year, down from an earlier forecast of 42 million tonnes, he said'.
'The Lao government is working to provide messages on food safety as it continues to promote the increased production of commercial crops for export to neighbouring countries, especially rice production'.The article sums what's needed for exporting and how the rice production is coming along as well as mentioning that in 5 years production should be 5 million tonnes, while this year it's estimated that production will be 4.2 million tonnes.
Unsure how exports would work out, as most of Laos rice is sticky rice, which holds little commercial value outside Laos and northeast Thailand. Maybe pushing this might open an exclusive niche for Lao exports. But as they mention interest from China, I doubt that's whats in store ...
Just a slight improvement along the commodity chain for rice exports may well show how exporting can be assisted. Port authorities of Phnom Penh will waive storage fees for stored rice for a maximum of 18 days. So reports the Phnom Penh Post (Mar. 4).
The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) though is not sitting on it's laurels. On Feb. 26 they mention that exporters will try to create a single export brand. The next day it also reports on how they would like to form export consortium's so as to upgrade export conditions and able to meet qualifications from major importers.'Last November, at the sixth International Rice Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's rice was highly valued for its quality, even better than rice from Thailand. A key factor helping Cambodia to gain such a high reputation was support from the International Trade Centre (ITC) through a project to develop a rice trade mark.Under the project, the ITC helped Cambodia to define a rice variety which has top quality. Next, the ITC supported Cambodia in building a most advanced rice mill and taught Cambodian farmers how to grow the special variety. In addition, the ITC helped eight Cambodian enterprises develop procedures on how to grow the rice.However, Vietnamese enterprises do not to pay attention to developing their own trade marks. What they do is simply buy rice from traders. The Department of Trade Promotion doesn't have any policies to encourage enterprises to develop trade marks for Vietnamese rice'.
'They had also expressed the needs to enforce the CRF Ethical Code of Conduct to all exporters, whether they are members of CRF or not as the current “laisser faire” had led to abuses which have tarnished the image of the Cambodian rice and sent export price spiraling downward despite the very good quality of our rice'.On March 5 oryza.com has a report on this, more or less as above.
'Proposed by BAAC, the guideline features writing off outstanding debts owed by farmers who were no longer unable to service debts or who passed away. It will also extend the debt repayment period for those who still have the ability to repay'.
'Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is planning to allocate 6.5 billion baht (around $200 million) to support rice farmers' cooperatives to improve their business capabilities, according to local sources'.Luckily when the government will change there will probably be no trace of whether or not this money will have been spent wisely. Now that's a policy we like!
Big news in Thailand. Farmers are not growing rice but watermelons. So says the Nation (Feb. 22). And though returns might return more swiftly the article also mentions that growing watermelons was not very profitable ...
The success of just one industry body for rice in Cambodia has rubbed off on the cassava sector. Same same says Phnom Penh Post (Mar. 3). The problems faced are also the same:
'He [Pang Vannaseth, director of Battambang’s Agricultural Department] added that while cultivation has been increasing yearly, the sector still faces many challenges such as unstable prices, a shortage of warehouses, and a lack of capital among farmers'.
'Some 100 farmers gathered at Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall on Saturday to protest the actions of a company they accuse of excavating 50 hectares of their rice fields for soil, which it sells by the truckload, according to protesters and the rights group Adhoc.Bearing signs that read “My land is my life”, protesters called for a halt to the activities of the company, which is owned by the deputy provincial military commander, Phlun Hong, also known as Phlun Dara. Villagers said the company told them it was digging a canal for irrigation, but maintained it had not told them beforehand....Phlun Hong’s company was one of four businesses whose licences were revoked by the Ministry of Mines and Energy late last year. Contact information for the company was unavailable yesterday'.
Yale university online magazine Environment 360 (Mar. 5) has an interesting report on the future of perennial rice. With having standing crop year round, erosion would be largely dealt with while it would result in much lower labour costs.
'By crossing domesticated rice with its wild predecessors, they hope to create deep-rooted varieties that hold soils in place, require less labor, and survive extremes of temperature and water supply....Critics argue, however, that perennial grains like PR23 will never be able to feed the world’s growing population. Kenneth Cassman, an agronomist at the University of Nebraska whose work focuses on global food security, says devoting a greater share of the world’s limited agricultural research funding to perennial rice research would be a mistake.“The goal is not just to increase agricultural productivity, the goal is to lift people out of poverty and provide adequate nutrition and health,” says Cassman, who worked at IRRI in the mid ‘90s. “And there’s no way that low-yielding perennial grains grown on small, marginal farms can lift anyone out of poverty.” Instead, he argues that farmers should grow drought-resistant trees or pasture — not grains — on steep hillsides to stabilize soils, and scientists should focus on improving annual grain yields in environments that are truly suited to them, such as flat fields with adequate water.Nevertheless, those involved with the perennial rice research in China say it could have global environmental implications'.