Collective rice trademark set to boost confidence, exports

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Samples of milled and paddy Damnoeb Sbai Mongkul (DSMK) rice on display at the launch of the collective trademark. Heng Chivoan

The collective trademark of Sen Kra’op (SKO) fragrant rice and Damnoeb Sbai Mongkul (DSMK) Cambodian premium glutinous rice was inaugurated to increase exporters’ confidence and boost exports of milled rice to the global markets.

At the inauguration, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak hailed the registration process of the two classes of rice, under a single collective trademark, as a sign of progress for the Cambodian rice sector at all levels, from the actors involved in the preparation of the seeds, to those who sell the grain to end consumers.

 

The minister noted that SKO short-term variety, with growth period of 115-120 days, plays an important role in export.

He assured that the ministry pays equal attention to all segments of the rice sector, whether its exports or the plight of smallholder farmers. The ministry strives to help smallholders prepare themselves better, especially by promoting markets on their behalf.

This includes contract farming between them and the rice mills via the Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (AIMS) project – jointly created by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government.

“Although the global landscape is affected by Covid-19, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has led to the price increase in fertilisers, pesticides and fuel, I am confident that this difficult situation will be resolved.

“[And] our milled rice exports will increase further in line with what is being done now, [as well as] building consumer confidence through the SKO-DSMK collective trademark,” he said.

“Collective trademarks” are intellectual property (IP) assets based on an underlying ecosystem of businesses, merchants and professionals from the same industry or geographical region that typically pool resources, share information and provide other benefits among members.

 

Registration of these trademarks is handled by the commerce ministry, which also grants ownership to a managing organisation. The SKO-DSMK collective trademark is owned by the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).

General Directorate of Agriculture chief Ngin Chhay said that at present, SKO-01, the first-generation of SKO rice, is popular all over Cambodia, as it provides high yield, is aromatic and of good quality, and is soft and delicious.

He suggested that SKO-01 offers the best value for money among rice cultivars, and is in high demand on the international market.

“Through the collective trademarks development programme, I hope and believe that it will help drive greater clarity for the milled rice market in Cambodia.

“This would help encourage farmers to cultivate it, to meet the market demand for exporters, especially the Cambodia Rice Federation, to promote and attract buyers on the international market,” he said.

CRF chairman Hun Lak said the two brands have been given high priority and were approved as the “fastest-ever growing” collective trademark to be registered in Cambodia.

He underscored that the establishment of these trademarks is the most important thing to build trust with customers as well as farmers, as some growers face difficulty selling their paddy rice during the harvest season.

It is apparently due to lack of clear source of market demand and exporters not having specific information from farmers.

“Establishing these milled rice brands will benefit us in the medium and long term, requiring us to work harder and bridge the information gap between market demand, production and exporters, and millers and farmers.

“We hope that the new collective trademark will help boost exports even more,” he said.

Suon Chhoeun, a farmer of the district agricultural development cooperative of Kampong Cham province’s Prey Chhor district, told The Post that his cooperative at one time grew SKO-01, back before the existence of clear definitions for the variety.

“The collective trademark registration of the Sen Kra’op 01 rice cultivar will encourage farmers to once again plant this variety, which is globally recognised,” he said, sharing that his cooperative has been cultivating Phka Romduol rice in the meantime.

Year-to-June 19, Cambodia has exported 310,000 tonnes of milled rice, valued around $191 million, to foreign markets via 53 companies, representing a year-on-year increase of 21.73 per cent in terms of tonnage, the CRF reported.

Of that amount, 41.62 per cent comprised premium fragrant milled rice, Sen Kra’op (22.42 per cent), white rice (33.12 per cent), parboiled and organic rice at 1.42 per cent each.

For 2022, CRF forecasts that exports would hit 750,000 tonnes, rising by roughly one-fifth from the 617,069 tonnes recorded in 2021.