Leveraging wider export opportunities, representatives from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam talked about strategic approaches in developing common rice standards during the International Workshop on Harmonizing Rice Standards in the Lancang-Mekong Region which was organized by Mekong Institute (MI) and Thailand Rice Department (RD) on July 5-7, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
Supported by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund, the three-day workshop was held to determine the approach in aligning the rice standards and gather the commitment of Lancang-Mekong countries in moving forward.
“The value of developing common rice standards for rice in the region would promote a parallel understanding among member countries which will make trade facilitation efficient nationally, regionally and internationally. It would also better address the challenges associated with food insecurity by ensuring that high-quality and safe food is available for everyone,” said Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department of MI during her welcome remarks. She encouraged the participants to use the workshop as a platform to strengthen the collaboration of Lancang-Mekong countries in increasing the effectiveness and competitiveness of rice exports through a regional alliance.
Mr. Kris Uttamavedin, Deputy Director General of RD, opened the workshop and expressed his hope for a fruitful outcome of the activity. In his message of support, Dr. Ngin Chhay, Director-General of the General Directorate of Agriculture in Cambodia, shared the rice production trends in Cambodia and how harmonizing the standards will benefit the region as a whole. He said that, “the development of policies on good agricultural and manufacturing practices in rice production and common rice production standard among Lancang-Mekong is fundamentally needed” because it “will lead to an increase in the intra- and inter-trade opportunities which will not only be valuable on trade but also in ensuring quality and safety of the products.”
Before opening the stage for discussion, the first session was allotted to provide participants with important concepts behind standards development and harmonization, as well as its benefits to countries and trade. A representative of each country was given time to talk about their national standards for rice, after which the standards expert, Ms. Farlash Pancho, presented the result of the alignment assessment conducted which revealed that the degree of harmonization between countries is lower than 70%. This means that a number of action lines are necessary to move forward in the development of common rice standards in the region.
After two days of presentations and discussions, participants were brought to an organic farm of Farmer and Nature Net, Amru Rice Cambodia head office and Golden Rice Cambodia milling factory where they informed the group on their rice production, products for exports, partner countries, best practices on international standards compliance, and experiences on global rice trade.
This workshop is a part of a three-year project “Development and Implementation of Common Rice Product Standard in Lancang-Mekong Countries” of MI and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) through the RD.