Rice firm plans Mondulkiri expansion

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Farmers harvest rice in Rokar Kong commune in Mok Kampoul district in 2021. Heng Chivoan

Prominent locally-owned rice miller and exporter Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd plans to set up facilities in Mondulkiri province, sourcing the grain required for production from nearby smallholder farmers to ensure remunerative prices for the staple crop, according to the company’s founder and director-general Song Saran.

“We plan to set up rice mills and drying silos in Mondulkiri to ensure better prices for the paddy grown by farmers [there and in Ratanakkiri], Kratie and Stung Treng provinces,” Saran told The Post on January 22.

 

He explained that the company works with farmers through “contract farming”, based on principles of environmental protection and climate resilience, to promote sustainability and inclusion as well as to ensure that its products are up to par.

“Contract farming” refers to entry into pre-harvest agreements between buyers and farmers on agricultural production with established conditions, generally regarding product types, prices, quantities, quality and other standards.

Saran noted that contracts can entail training in, among other things, standards in agricultural practices; organic farming; environmental protection as well as climate change mitigation and resilience; novel technologies and techniques; planning and management; marketing; internal auditing; financial recordkeeping; and entrepreneurship.

He shared that more than 30,000 smallholder farmers nationwide are now producing organic rice through such contracts with Amru Rice, after nearly a decade of following the business model. Saran assured that these growers have stable incomes and guaranteed buyers for their crop.

Through contract farming, the company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil quality, and otherwise chip in towards the government’s carbon neutrality goals, he said.

Last year, the firm considerably stepped up its number of farming contracts in several provinces, especially in Preah Vihear, where it has partnered up with 21 agricultural cooperatives (AC) on organic rice agreements covering a production area of 11,400ha and involving 3,500 households, he added.

 

In the highlands, specifically in Mondulkiri, Amru Rice has teamed up with five ACs involving 3,500 households, as well as 13 ACs in the southwestern provinces involving 1,300 households in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot provinces through a subsidiary Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Corp Plc (CACC), Saran said.

Amru Rice is also working with Preah Vihear Meanchey Union Agricultural Cooperative (PUMAC) on contract farming to increase its reach, and boost supplies of organic rice for the company to export, he said.

And with support from multinational climate adaptation and mitigation programme Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), Amru Rice is set to incorporate new regenerative and conservation agriculture practices into everyday farming, he noted.

These practices, he claimed, will increase smallholder farmers’ yields and incomes as well as reduce their vulnerabilities.

The Cambodia Rice Federation reported that the Kingdom exported a total of 637,004 tonnes of milled rice and 3,477,886 tonnes of paddy rice (also cited as “3,467,886” in the same document) respectively valued at $414.29 million and $841.09 million.