AMRU inks $15M deal with Int’l Finance Corp

Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd, a local rice exporter and leading organic paddy producer, signed a more than $15 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation on Wednesday.

The firm plans to expand its organic milled rice exports to 50,000 tonnes a year, its CEO Song Saran said.

Saran told The Post on Thursday that the loan would be used to expand milled rice warehouses, drying silos, as well as to strengthen its packing standards, processing, quality and safety, and to increase capital to purchase paddy.

“In this capital package, we will invest in infrastructure, paddy purchases and reinforce quality. We want our country to become the largest exporter of organic milled rice in Southeast Asia, where Thailand is currently the largest,” he said.

Saran said the plan is scheduled to begin in July.

“[We] will also supply [rice] to food processing factories. We have the capacity to supply,” he said.

Saran said the company plans to export 20,000 tonnes of organic milled rice to the EU, US, China and Hong Kong this year, and 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes next year.

“We have been working on organic paddy for three to four years, and we have reached a commercial level, so it requires us to invest and expand business in compliance with the standards. We have nothing to worry about,” he said.

Saran said in the first six months of this year, the company exported more than 4,000 tonnes of organic milled rice, earning nearly $4 million. It expects to export 10,000 tonnes by the end of the year.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries shows that in the first five months of this year, Cambodia’s rice exports reached over 250,000 tonnes – up 4.14 per cent year-on-year.

Cambodia Rice Federation vice-president Hun Lak said total exports for this year will fall about five per cent due to tariffs imposed by the EU, despite a slight increase in the first five months.

“We know that the tariffs imposed on Cambodian rice exports to the EU will cause them to decline,” he said.

After the EU imposed tariffs on the Kingdom’s rice imports, China agreed in January to increase its import quota for Cambodian rice to 400,000 tonnes this year from the previous 300,000 tonnes.

Lak asserted that the Chinese market may offset the downside. “China’s additional [rice] quotas will compensate [for our losses],” he stressed.

Cambodia exported a total of 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, down 1.4 per cent from 2017’s 635,679 tonnes, data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

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