Phnom Penh Post | Monday, 27 December 2010
by Cheang Sokha
Bangladesh is seeking to purchase 200,000 tonnes of Cambodia’s rice and has requested economic land concessions, according to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
After the meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni on Monday, Hor Namhong told reporters the government of Bangladesh saw its food shortage problem as a first priority. Consequently, it has asked to purchase roughly 200,000 tonnes of rice as soon as possible.
In turn, Cambodia requested more investment from Bangladesh to process rice domestically.
“We have a rice surplus although Cambodia does not have the rice mills [to process it] so we want Bangladesh to invest in rice mills. Because we do not have the rice mills our farmers sell their rice to Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.
Thailand and Vietnam are the world’s two largest rice exporters.
Last week the Bangladesh Directorate General of Food released a tender on its website seeking to import 50,000 tonnes of white rice to help its domestic shortage. It gave bidders until January 3 to submit offers.
Hor Namhong said Bangladesh wanted to invest in growing rice in Cambodia for future exports back to Bangladesh, requested long-term land leases for up to 99 years, such as Cambodia had already granted to other countries.
The two countries would work towards an agreement to improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship which was now quite small, he said.
Dipu Moni’s two-day visit, which ends Tuesday, is the first state visit from Bangladesh since 2001.
She has also met Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Minister of Agriculture, Chan Sarun, for further discussions about agricultural projects.
Cambodia’s national rice policy includes an aim to reach 1 million tonnes of milled rice exports by 2015.
Hun Sen said recently that Cambodia’s rice yield this year would be the biggest since the Khmer Rouge regime, with farmers harvesting up to eight million tonnes of rice, of which 3.7 million tonnes has been earmarked as surplus for export.
Countries from the Gulf States such as Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have made similar requests to purchase farmland to grow food for sale in their domestic markets.