Friday, February 17, 2012

Cambodia could fall short on rice seeds

Cambodia may fall short on the domestic demand for purified rice seedlings, which could dampen rice exports, government officials have said.


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Ouk Makara, director of the Cambodian Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI), said that businesses have been increasingly eager to purchase purified seeds from the institute.

He said that although CARDI produced 21 tonnes of purified seedlings in 2010 and increased production to 36 tonnes in 2011, the yielded amounts were unable to meet the market's demand for the seeds.

Among the 10 types of government-introduced seedlings, about half were of the Phka Rumduol sort.

“If [other companies] ask for more in 2012, we won’t have enough seeds for them,” he said.

Further complicating matters is that CARDI is only a semi-autonomous institute with a small amount of capital, which limits its ability to produce and store seedlings for later resale.

“So far, the demand for the rice seeds is higher, and [companies] have booked and come to buy more than last year, but my production amount hasn't yet increased to meet these demands because I don’t have the capital to produce,” he said.

He said that to produce the 36 tonnes of purified seeds last year, CARDI spent between US$20,000 and $25,000.

Heng Sarath, deputy director of Cambodian export company TTY, which signed a contract with a Chinese company Sinograin in August 2011 to export 200,000 tonnes to China, said that TTY buys as many seeds from CARDI as they can but that competition is fierce.

He said that difficulties arise when numerous companies compete and fight to buy the seedlings.

“We are collecting and buying these rice seeds, but they are rare. Other companies want them as well.

They want, but we also want, and this causes competition.”

Lim Bunheng, President of Loran Import-Export company and owner of the Loran Milled Rice factory, said that he is now storing about 20 tonnes of the high-quality seeds to sell, with varying amounts sold each year to villagers and farmers.

He says the reason for his large stores is that since beginning his business back in 1994, he sold the high-quality Phka Rumduol and Phka Rumdeng primarily to local villagers living nearby the factory, who then sold their surpluses back to his factory.

“We can keep the good seeds and we can expand to storing more seeds,” he said, adding that the better seeds result in larger yields and increased export capacities.