IFC is strengthening the Cambodian rice sector by helping to add value along every step of the supply chain, with key interventions at the farming, milling and export stages. Through the Rice Sector Support Project, IFC is working with and through local millers to help farmers access higher-value seed varieties and increase the efficiency and yield of their farms. To boost Cambodian rice competitiveness on the international market, IFC is also working with 70 percent of the nation’s rice exporters.
Agriculture, led by rice production, represents approximately one third of Cambodia’s GDP and employs 80 percent of the population. The use of a phrase meaning “white gold” to describe the grain in Cambodia reflects its economic and cultural importance.
However, relative to neighboring countries Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodian rice paddy yield is low. Cambodian rice farmers cultivate one crop per year, compared to farmers in Vietnam who are able to produce crops three times a year. According to the Asia Foundation, the lower output levels are due to the high costs associated with expensive fuel and limited transportation options and port facilities.
Despite low yield, Cambodian farmers produce a surplus of rice every year. According to figures released by the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, exporters only brought 10 percent of that excess product to market in 2012. Lower-quality rice varieties, outdated and inefficient milling technology and a lack of compliance with international food safety standards have limited the ability of Cambodian exporters to find international buyers.
IFC works to bring about transformational change by pursuing a comprehensive, sector-wide strategy in the Cambodian rice industry. IFC aims to contribute to increasing national rice exports by 300,000 metric tons annually, at a value of $180 million. In addition, the goal of the project is to increase and improve sustainable farming opportunities for 30,000 farmers.
IFC’s holistic approach targets key processes along the value chain by:
RICE MILLER LEVEL
RICE EXPORTER LEVEL
At the national level, IFC, together with the World Bank, advised the Cambodian government on developing and promulgating its first milled rice standard since 1956.