Cambodia exports 11,200 tonnes of organic rice in 2020 hinh anh 1Illustrative photo. (Source: AFP/VNA)

Phnom Penh (VNA) -
Cambodia shipped 11,200 tonnes of organic milled rice abroad in 2020, a 1.2-percent increase over 2019, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).

While the milled-rice export sector by and large chalks up 2020’s lacklustre growth performance to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the CRF worked to ramp up sales of Cambodian milled rice abroad.

The CRF said more than 90 percent of the exports were shipped to the European market, while “a small amount” went to the US.

With Cambodia’s total 2020 milled-rice exports weighing in at 690,829 tonnes, organic rice accounted for just 1.6 percent.

Song Saran, president of the CRF and CEO of miller and exporter Amru Rice Cambodia Co Ltd, said total milled-rice exports surged 11.4 percent from 2019, far outshining the growth seen in the organic variant.

Saran attributed the growth in Cambodian organic milled rice exports to tariffs levied by the EU, citing the market’s dependence on the bloc.

Cambodia’s rice sector officially lost its import duty exemption granted by the EU in January 2019 after the bloc’s decision to impose tariffs on imports from Cambodia and Myanmar to protect European rice farmers’ interests.

Chan Sokheang, chairman and CEO of Signatures of Asia Co Ltd, another local rice miller and exporter, said COVID-19 had diminished global demand for organic rice.

Declining incomes during the COVID-19 epidemic have led people to opt for the types of rice they need, with less focus on organic rice, which costs almost twice as much, he stated.

When the incomes increase, the purchase of organic milled rice will swell up in consonance, he said./.