Cambodia hoping to lead world rice exports

Cambodia hoping to lead world rice exports

Cambodia hoping to lead world rice exports

Updated 19 December 2011, 16:16 AEDT

Cambodia is seeking to become one of the world's leading rice exporters, with the country's agriculture minister, Chan Sarun, saying he hopes to produce enough rice to export some eight million tonnes annually by 2015.

This follows an announcement by Thailand's prime minister that his country, the world's leading rice exporter, will not cut down on exports.

Fears of rice shortages have led to dramatic increases global prices in the price of rice have forced major producers and exporters like India, Vietnam and China to adopt protectionist measures by imposing limits on exports, further exacerbating the problem.

Although Cambodia remains one of Asia's poorest countries, the head of the Cambodian centre for the study and development of Agriculture, Yang Saing Koma, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program the prospect of becoming a leading rice exporter is a distinct possibility.

"There is the potential to increase the rice production of Cambodia," he said.

"Of course, we still have big land areas and the rice productivity in Cambodia is still low in those areas, and there is still the potential to expand the cultivated area".

Cambodia's ambitions to increase exports follows Sunday's announcement by Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej that his country, won't cut down on rice exports.

A spokesperson for the International Rice research Institute in the Philippines Duncan Macintosh welcomes the initiatives by both government, and says such moves could help quell the panic that has gripped the international rice market.

"Clearly both ... responses by Thailand and Cambodia to try help stabilise the market - they make good sense and seem to be very good decisions," he said.

"I think most governments in Asia are looking to calm things down, because there's every reason for the markets to be stable".