Over the last decade since the government established a rice promotion policy in 2010, locally-owned rice miller and exporter Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd has become one of the game changers in driving milled-rice exports and transforming the Kingdom into a key rice exporter in the international arena.
Speaking at a February 9 ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the company, its CEO Song Saran said time had seemingly passed in the blink of an eye and that Amru had made decent strides over the years.
“Looking back on the past, there were three things that inspired us to venture into this business. First was the government rice promotion policy introduced in 2009-2010 and second was my family – my retired father was an agronomist and my mother was a local milled-rice seller who inherited the work from her father.
“Third was the EBA [Everything But Arms] scheme that granted zero-tariffs for milled rice imported to the EU” at the time, he said.
On August 12, the European Commission (EC) officially withdrew 20 per cent of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme from Cambodia. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.2 billion) of the Kingdom’s annual exports to the EU’s 27-nation bloc.
Saran added: “I hope we can continue to grow in the next 10 years, even while the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, a global economic recession and climate change.
“We still have a long way to go in promoting responsible agriculture and the Cambodian brand, as well as achieving mutual benefits through international markets.”
Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Tek Reth Kamrong said Amru epitomises the spirit of entrepreneurship and leverages government policy and development partnerships to make Cambodian rice known to the world.
“Their exploits have also improved the living standards of many, many farmers throughout the country. As we look to the foreseeable future, Cambodia is undeniably capable of producing myriad products for local and overseas markets,” she said.
Established in 2011, Amru remains very active in all markets except for Africa. The company has exported over 450,000 metric tonnes of milled rice since its inception.
In 2015, the company shifted some its focus to organic rice and sustainable fragrant rice as well as investing in the infrastructure required under the high-end food-safety standards for export to Europe, the US, China and the Asia-Pacific.
Also present at the event, US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy congratulated Amru on its success, adding that the company is dedicated and a great partner for the US.
“Through the partnership we have enjoyed with Amru, Amru completed a successful and first-ever US Export-Import Bank [Exim] deal here in Cambodia, helping the company purchase the western world’s high-technology US-made rice silo – is to help Amru to increase capacity but also productivity, that’s a great thing.
“Last year, our US Agency for International Development [USAID] linked Amru to 16 sustainable rice cooperatives helping to strengthen the company’s value chain. In the United States, our view on development financial cooperation is now to support Amru’s organic rice production,” he said.
In May 2018, Amru became the Kingdom’s first exporter to receive an Exim-backed loan. The $345,400 loan was disbursed by Connecticut-headquartered Atrafin LLC for the purchase of a 3,000-tonne storage system from Scafco Corp, which is based in Washington state.