According to Agriculture Ministry of Cambodia, more than half of 50 rice millers that applied for export permits to China passed a health and safety inspection by a visiting Chinese team, though they will have to wait for official confirmation from the Beijing government before they can begin exporting. Four inspectors from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) visited Cambodia last week to inspect local rice mills. The team determined that 27 Cambodian millers satisfied China’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, and would be eligible to export their product to the Chinese market. Applications were received in a second call for expressions of interest after 28 millers gained certification in the first round.
Undersecretary of the agriculture ministry, Mr. Hean Vanhan, lamented that most of the millers have not done enough preparation for the quality checks “In order for us to export to China, they have to check and ensure that our rice production does not have any adverse impact on health or contain any pests,” he explained. “We are now waiting for an official statement from China in order to confirm that the rice millers can begin exporting. The Agriculture Ministry will conduct a workshop this month to help them learn about the policies and preparation for the checks,” he assured. “We want to help them pass the inspections for quality checks made by our officials and Chinese experts,” he informed. The ministry will send officials to check rice millers’ quality three weeks after the workshop. Mr. Vanhan said he was not sure how long the quality checks by local officials and Chinese experts would take, but the millers who passed the second round will join the other 28 in shipping 200,000 metric tonnes a year to China.
China was the biggest markets for Cambodia’s milled rice last year, where 127,000 metric tons out of the country’s total 542,144 metric tonnes was shipped. Cambodian milled rice exports have reached 109,000 metric tons in the first two months this year, up 14 percent over a year before, according to the ministry’s month report. Out of this, 46,000 metric tons were sent to China. Mr. Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF), said greater control over the quality of Cambodian rice milling would help improve the capacity of the millers, but it could also prove problematic for smaller millers.