Two years after the Agriculture Ministry announced that it wanted a single brand under which Cambodian rice would be exported, disagreements between the ministry and the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) mean that nothing has yet been approved.
Despite the CRF proposing “Angkor Malis” as their preference, a lack of support from the Agriculture Ministry has meant that brand registration efforts have stalled, explained CRF vice president Hun Lak.
“Currently, Cambodian exports premium rice to foreign countries under the name of jasmine rice while exports to Asian countries, including China go under name of Pkha Malis,” Mr. Lak told Khmer Times.
He said that the July proposal for the brand name had followed the CRF’s rejection of the ministry’s own suggestion of “Romdoul.”
Mr. Lak said Cambodia has about 10 varieties of rice which are included under the heading of premium rice. He said that their choice of “Angkor Malis” helped tie Cambodian rice with the country’s most famous tourist attraction, into a name that was easy to remember and pronounce.
“We want all relevant stakeholders to identify the national rice branding.”
Hean Vanhan, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, told Khmer Times yesterday that the National Standards Council had already adopted two varieties of Cambodian rice, Phka Romduol, and Phka Chansensor, as premium rice with plans to include more.
He said this would not affect efforts to create a single brand for export, but added that the CRF’s suggestion would not work.
“CRF selected ‘Angkor Malis’ as branding, but it’s not right since there are already rice seedlings called Malis. What the private sector wants is to steal foreign branding to make the rice similar to Thailand, since the Thai Hom Mali is already famous,” Mr. Vanhan claimed.
“If we put ‘Angkor Malis,’ which is specific only to Cambodian premium rice ‘Malis,’ it has a different taste to Cambodian fragrant rice such as Phka Romduol, Phka Chansensor, Malis, Phka Khnei and others. If customers purchased Angkor Malis today with this taste, it may be a different taste when they buy it again in the future, even though it has the same branding,” Mr. Vanhan explained.
He suggested that a non-specific “Cambodian Fragrant Rice,” with the specific variety written underneath, would help clear the confusion and prevent people from thinking they were buying a specific rice variety, when they might in fact be buying a different premium rice.
CRF vice president Mr. Lak however, dismissed the suggestion.
“We suggested to use ‘Angkor Malis’ [and then the variety name]. If the customer needs to buy Senpidor or Romduol rice it is up to them, but they are under the brand name of Angkor Malis,” Mr. Lak pointed out.
He said that it was important for a decision to be reached, but that the CRF was presently focused on creating a quality seal to identify premium Cambodian rice sold domestically.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice (Cambodia) told Khmer Times yesterday that the long delay in choosing a brand name meant that exporters were still just using their own different names for Cambodian rice, such as jasmine rice or fragrant rice.
“We suggest to have one name to identify Cambodian premium rice since we don’t want each company having different names and standards for export to foreign countries. We want Cambodia to have a single branding and standard,” Mr. Saran stressed.
By SOK CHAN, The Khmer Times News