Cambodian Rice Federation Appeals to EU to Save the Livelihoods of Half a Million Families

The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) called on here this afternoon the EU to save the Cambodian farmers who have directly earned from the European Union (EU)'s trade preferential scheme, according to CRF's press release.

In the first six months of 2019, it pointed out, Cambodia exported approximately 93,000 tons of rice to the EU. That's a lot of rice, but it's half the amount that was exported during the same period in 2018. As of the first of this year, the EU imposed duties on Cambodian rice in order to protect domestic producers. This has been acutely felt by most of the 500,000 families who eke out a living farming jasmine and fragrant long grain rice, in spite of the fact that these varieties are geographically specific and do not compete directly with products grown in the EU.

"As if this weren't painful enough, the EU is now considering the withdrawal of its 'Everything But Arms' (EBA) programme. This trade arrangement allows goods from Cambodia and other developing nations to enter the EU free of duties and tariffs. EU legislators are threatening to end the arrangement to press for policy reforms in Cambodia. A thrashing could lead to a threshing of an industry and a way of life," it underlined.

Since 2001, added the press release, not only has the EBA eased the movement of goods for Cambodia, it has provided a secure platform upon which an entire economy has been able to embrace growth and prosperity in an increasingly demanding world market.

Cambodian rice is produced in keeping all international standards and CRF supports producers with programmes that are designed to encourage ethical, responsible and sustainable farming practices, said the same source, stressing that the goal is to encourage a system that is fair and one that results in clear benefits for growers.

In particular, it continued, Cambodia is rapidly expanding cultivation under Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standards. Varieties are grown under stringent conditions that comply with product standard and fair-trade certifications. Organic (SRP) rice, per UNEP and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) specifications, is free of toxins related to commercial fertilisers and pesticides and is produced using environment friendly and fair labour practices. Benefits for farming communities include enhanced opportunities for women and a strategy for effective climate change adaptation.

"Without the EBA, these efforts will come to naught. The CRF appeals to the EU to save the livelihoods of half a million families and to save the work that we have done to earn your respect, that of consumers and that of those we serve," said CRF.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press