For non-hybrid rice trade, it's expected that Vietnam will gain more favourable access to the U.S., while Japan manages to keep imports largely at bay albeit for some token imports.
'Some exporters of Cambodia’s biggest agricultural crop also voiced concern over the new trade pact, suggesting it would limit their expansion into the US market.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the Kingdom’s largest rice exporters, said Cambodian rice accounted for about 2 to 3 per cent of the US market last year. He said that while this represents only a small share of the market, the TPP would restrict any future growth.
“We are not affected by the signing of the TPP, as rice exports to the US are not big as compared to garments,” said Saran. “But it will be challenging to expand our market share in the US.”
Noted is that Cambodia is becoming more and more dependent on European and Chinese imports, areas where the Vietnamese have less bargaining value.'Rice exports fell sharply last month, but the Kingdom’s most important crop is expected to recover and end the year in positive territory....However, September’s dip should have minimal impact on the Kingdom’s annual export tally, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Direct milled rice exports between January and August were about 340,000 tonnes, nearly 50 per cent up compared to the same period a year earlier, it noted'.
'The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) on Wednesday announced strict penalties for exporters who mix Cambodian rice with low-quality rice from other countries after receiving complaints that some exporters have been using the method to increase profits'.
'Domestic rice millers are preparing to compete against their Thai rivals for a share of the US market as the European Union market becomes increasingly competitive, they say.
The move, which will see the Kingdom’s premium rice competing with Thai jasmine rice, which dominates rice imports by the US, is part of an overall strategy to diversify export markets, rice exporters say....
Economist Srey Chanthy agreed that domestic rice millers will face immense challenges competing with Thai rice in the US market. It is “very difficult to compete with Thailand,” he said. “Maybe Cambodian [exporters] should capture a niche market, like organic rice, or conduct aggressive marketing campaigns and target Cambodian communities as a start,” he said'.
'To compete amid rice oversupply and consumers preferring to use high-quality rice, the [Vietnamese] rice sector must improve the quality of rice to participate in niche markets which are small but have high value'.
'The government has called on farmers across the country to grow plants that require less water than rice amid the ongoing risk of drought....... after rice farmers in Kanchanaburi expressed dissatisfaction over the government's plea that they avoid growing rice outside the rainy season'.
'[Thai] Farmers are growing a dry season rice crop - despite authorities' warnings - and have urged the government to come up with concrete policies to help rice growers during the dry season.As the dry season approaches, the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has warned farmers in the Chao Phraya River Basin not to plant the dry season rice crop. They say the available water in the four major dams is not enough for agriculture. Officials suggest farmers cultivate fewer water-consuming plants - or change jobs and become labourers...."We are told to change jobs - to be workers or otherwise plant corn, vegetables or beans instead. This hurt my feelings so much. We are farmers - and furthermore, vegetables do not sell well and are cheap," she [Wassana Gromtu, a farmer from Phitsanulok's Bang Rakam district] said'.
'Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry permanent secretary Theerapat Prayunrasiddhi said the ministry had ordered the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) to inform farmers in the Chao Phraya River Basin about the water situation in order to encourage them not to grow the dry-season rice crop....
"During a drought, we see that 80 per cent of farmers outside the irrigation area can adjust well to the situation because they are familiar with water shortages and can change their production pattern, unlike those in the irrigation areas who are used to easy access to water," Wiwat [Wiwat Salyakamthorn, Agri-Nature Foundation president] said. He concluded that the farmers needed to help themselves during drought, as the government cannot provide help to everyone. He urged them to learn mixed farming and have their own water reservoir on their land'.
'FAO currently anticipates the 2015 main season rice production to fall by 3 percent to 7 million tonnes. Assuming more normal growing conditions for the latter half of the ongoing main season and larger sowings for the forthcoming 2015/16 dry season which may partially compensate for the losses incurred by the earlier dry weather, the 2015 aggregate rice production is forecast at 9.18 million tonnes. This is 2 percent down from last year’s bumper crop and slightly above the five-year average'.
One aspect they concentrate on is how China's food security strategy is maturing, which may enable more imports. On the other hand they note how the US agriculture's dependence on GM strategies is increasing. This in turn raises the likelihood of GM strains turning up in exports thus possibly affecting these. As China has done so in the past.
'Considering the resource scarcity much of the world will face in the coming years and decades, genetic engineering is poised to be a growing part of agricultural strategy, and so contamination will only become more likely. Even though there is already domestic development of genetically modified strains of rice, Beijing is likely to be extremely cautious about accepting foreign genetically modified crops, especially for staples like rice. Furthermore, as Beijing seeks to build up its own agricultural biotech sector as part of its food security strategy, we could see regulations shift accordingly'.
Phnom Penh Post (Sep. 30) has an article on how pepper grown in and around Kampot is gaining better markets at better prices due to good quality control.
'A report released by UNCTAD this week showed that “prices for Kampot pepper had increased significantly after producers gained access to wider and more diversified markets as a result of GI certification”.Meanwhile Thai rubber farmers want more (Bangkok Post, Oct. 15). In short, a minimum price, the ability to swap rubber for rice with the government, a review of forest policies vìs-a-vìs rubber plantations on demarcated forest lands and landless rubber farmers and tappers should have the ability to register with the government.
In one case study, Kampot pepper producer Starling Farm saw the farmgate price of its product increase from $5 per kilogram before GI status in 2010 to about $18 in 2014'.
Other news which might have a slight touch to rice trade comes from the Phnom Penh Post (Sep. 25):
'The ministry of Agriculture plans to establish five regional food safety inspection offices near the country’s borders to facilitate the flow of cross-border agricultural trade, reducing the time it takes Cambodian exporters to deliver shipments of agricultural products to foreign markets, a ministry official has said'.Oddly imports don't face the same requirements.