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Chinese Firm to Invest $100M in Rice Mill

A Chinese company from Yunnan province will invest $100 million to build a rice mill and processing plant in Cambodia with a local firm and export 200,000tons of milled rice to China beginning this year, official said yesterday.

The Yunnan Pan-Asia Agricultural Cooperation and Development Company Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia’s Soma Group Company Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia’s Soma Group Company Ltd to build the rice mill and export the finished product during a meeting Friday between Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and a delegation of investors from Yunnan province, Council of Ministers spokesman Ek Tha said.

“This is in line with our plans to export rice to overseas markets… and show the world that Cambodia is a key rice exporter,” Mr. Tha said, adding that the delegation, led by Yunnan governor Li Jiheng, did not specify where or when the plant would be built. “They will set up in a province which is a rice basket and in an excellent location where it is easy to ship to China.”

Mr. Tha said the exports were due to begin in December 2012, but that he didn’t know whether the plant would be functional by that time.

The mill will help Cambodia meet its agricultural goal of exporting 1 million tons of milled rice by 2015 and help famers get rid of surplus of paddy rice, Mr. Tha said.

“Cambodian farmers mostly export paddy rice to Thailand and Vietnam and are still left with a surplus because there are no rice companies to buy the rice, keep it in stock, process and export it,” he said.

Lim Bunheng, chairman of major rice export firm Loran Import-Export Co and the president of the Cambodia Rice Exporters Association, said the deal was a good sign for future exports to China.

“This is a good thing because if China opens up their market for our rice, it will be the number one market because we will save time and money,” Mr. Bunheng said. “And it’s an attractive market because of all the people there.”

Mr. Tha said the Chinese delegation also expressed interest in building two agricultural parks in Siem Reap and Banteay MeanChey provinces that would train Cambodians in new rice planting techniques and technologies.

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