Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cambodia produces the cheapest rice

Feb 3, 2015

I spoke to a Singaporean who helped the Cambodian agro-industry in the following project.

Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are 3 biggest rice growers.
Cambodia (15 million people, size of Malaysia) produces the cheapest rice.

Owing to its history of Pol Pot killing the educated amongst the population, there are very few educated farmers to adopting agro-technology. The main worry is scam and so the farmers cannot accept new knowledge which may benefit their rice production. Wholesalers and traders are the other group.

The rich and the poor wealth gap is very wide. It took 40 years to get the whole rice production community to accept IR8 strain of rice.


Rice production by the big rice millers needs a lot of power (electricity) to dry the rice and crush the paddy which then comes out as rice. The husk, after crushing, is too voluminous and light and contains silica.

Traditionally, the husk is burnt, contaminating the environment with silica as it is a poisonous waste and cannot be used as fertiliser. 1 tonne of paddy produces 100 kg of rice and a large and light volume of husks. If the silica is extracted, the by product can be used as a fertiliser and the silica can be sold.

In this project, Angkor Wat Mills, the largest rice miller in Cambodia, is privately owned. It has a plant which extracts the silica on a large scale. It has a British company to document the process (safety and SOP operation etc). It and another company is doing this project (paddy-dehusk-rice).

Vietnam had a US$20 million ADB loan but the plants are not operational now. Thailand used to have privately funded research centres to provide free services to the farmers by the Thaksin and elite group. Now it had no operational plants now. So, Cambodia is the only one doing it in 2015. The Singaporean says that the tuning of the plant must be done right to execute this process although the agro-technology knowledge is well known. Rice husk is converted to biogas

For every tonne of rice produced, Angkor Wat Rice Mill donates a gas stove to the farmer. The farmer is to use the gas stove to calcify silica and take back 95% of the hydroxide.  No need to buy hydroxide. Control of CO2 is important.  

A plant needs US$2.5-3 m to be set up. Control of CO2 and the need to purchase hydroxide. A chemical process basically to extract the silica for sale, and to prevent environment contamination.

Education of the farmer is needed to use gas stove provided to farmers by Ang Kong Rice Mills (2.5 years in existence).

The technology is there. But the execution is the challenge and it appears that Cambodia has successes to lower the cost of production.  Can this process be done in Myanmar? The stage of development - not possible now.

2 main strains. Jasmine and Thai Hong Ha.

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