Phnom Penh – Indonesia is looking to Cambodia and other countries to bolster its rice supplies, reinforcing trade ties in the process.
This revelation emerged in a meeting between agriculture minister Dith Tina and Indonesia's deputy foreign minister Pahala Nugraha Mansury at the ministry headquarters in Phnom Penh on August 15.
This development came on the heels of a virtual chat just five days earlier between outgoing Prime Minister Hun Sen and Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
During the discussion, Pahala highlighted the significance of food security. He voiced a keen interest in tapping into additional rice markets, including Cambodia, to ensure a stable food supply for Indonesia.
"The presence of Cambodia's milled rice in the Indonesian market will be another testament to the cooperation between the two countries in the field of trade. Cambodia has good quality milled rice and it's recognised and imported by eight out of 10 ASEAN member countries," he said.
Tina reassured Indonesia of Cambodia's commitment to assist, saying his ministry will facilitate the export of milled rice to the bloc's largest economy. This initiative enjoys backing from the private sector, with the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) – the Kingdom's apex rice industry body – playing a pivotal role.
"Cambodia is always open to Indonesia investing in our agricultural chain, making the export process of milled rice to Indonesia smoother and more efficient," Tina was quoted as telling the delegation.
Conversations also veered towards the possibility of Indonesia investing in Cambodia's agricultural sector.
Areas such as rice milling, warehousing, logistics, and even supplying urea fertiliser to Cambodia caught their attention.
During his August 11 phone call with Hun Sen, Jokowi expressed his desire to import milled rice from Cambodia, hinting at dispatching a delegation for further discussions.
During the call, Hun Sen suggested that Indonesian investors set up facilities in Cambodia for rice milling and creating a system to purchase paddy rice from local farmers, ensuring a steady flow for future exports.