The Cambodian economy is heavily dependent on rice farming, which accounts for nearly 1/3 of its total agricultural production and utilises 80 percent of cultivated land. In 2012, only 200,000 tons of paddy, out of 9.3 million tons produced, were officially exported.
Cambodian rice was awarded Best Rice of the Year in 2012 and 2013 at the Rice Trader World Rice Conference. There is high potential for surplus paddy to be processed into quality milled rice for export which would increase the value of harvests to farmers and to contribute to the government’s target: to increase rice exports to 1 million tons by 2015.
The current fragmented rice value chain encourages informal exports of unprocessed paddy to Vietnam and Thailand and a loss of value for the economy. Traditional methods of drying and storage prevent farmers from selling their produce at a higher price during the off season when most millers have 30-40 percent idle capacity. A more consistent supply of quality paddy is needed throughout the year.
To address these issues, 25 executives from BASF and from 17 nationalities travelled to Phnom Penh and Battambang to explore the opportunities to strengthen the post-harvest value chain in the rice sector in Cambodia. After meeting key stakeholders, a compelling new social business was proposed to provide farming communities with professional post-harvest services, quality agricultural inputs and training.