Source: Khmer Times | Mon, 19 September 2016, by Ros Chanveasna
As rice farmers continue to feel the pinch of this year’s drop in prices, dozens protested in Battambang province yesterday, dumping sacks of recently harvested rice into the middle of National Road 5 and causing extensive traffic delays. In recent years, farmers have received about 800 riel (about $0.20) per kilogram of unmilled rice, but this year the price has fallen to about 600 riel, leaving many to complain that the price is too low to support themselves and pay back farming loans.
The protesters yesterday demanded that authorities intervene in the current situation and ensure prices go back to their earlier high.
Deputy provincial Governor Ngoun Ratanak told Khmer Times yesterday that the protest had received a swift response from authorities, with governor Chan Sophal visiting the protest site to talk about the issue.
Mr. Ratanak said that the discussion had been successful, with the protest being called off in exchange for a meeting with officials.
“His Excellency Chan Sophal went down and spoke with those farmers, explaining the government’s significant effort in finding a solution to the problem,” he said, noting the Friday announcement that $27 million had been earmarked for emergency relief for the rice sector.
“After hold the meeting, the farmers have agreed with the government’s promise to pay at least $225 per metric ton for their paddy rice.”
The government announced on Friday that it would issue loans to rice millers to ensure they bought 90,000 tons of the current rice harvest, in an attempt to boost prices and ensure enough available cash for the sector to survive. The recent drought and imports of cheaper rice from the region have compounded to drive costs down.
Last week, the Cambodia Rice Bank also said it would intervene to ensure that prices rose, promising to pay 840 riel a kilogram for farmers who deposited rice in its warehouses.