PHNOM PENH, Aug. 22, 2019 /CNW/ - In the first six months of 2019, Cambodia exported more than 93,000 tons of rice to the European Union (EU). That's a lot of rice, but it's almost half the amount that was exported during the same period in 2018. As of the first of this year, the EU imposed duties on Cambodian rice in order to protect domestic producers. This has been acutely felt by most of the 500,000 families in Cambodia who eke out a living farming jasmine and fragrant long grain rice, in spite of the fact that these varieties are geographically specific and do not compete directly with products grown in the EU.
As if this weren't painful enough, the EU is now considering the withdrawal of its "Everything But Arms" (EBA) program. This trade arrangement allows goods from Cambodia and other developing nations to enter the EU free of duties and tariffs. EU legislators are threatening to end the arrangement to press for policy reforms in Cambodia. A political thrashing could lead to a virtual threshing of an industry and a way of life.
Since 2001, not only has the EBA eased the movement of goods for Cambodia, it has provided a secure platform upon which an entire economy has been able to embrace growth and prosperity in an increasingly demanding world market.
Cambodian rice is produced in keeping with all international standards and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) supports producers with programs that are designed to encourage ethical, responsible and sustainable farming practices. The goal is to encourage a system that is fair and one that results in clear benefits for growers.
In particular, Cambodia is rapidly expanding cultivation under Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standards. Varieties are grown under stringent conditions that comply with product standard and fair-trade certifications. Organic (SRP) rice, per UNEP and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) specifications, is free of toxins related to commercial fertilizers and pesticides. It is produced with the use of environmentally responsible cultivation methods and fair labour practices. Enhanced opportunities for women and a strategy for effective climate change adaptation are among the many benefits for farming communities.
Without the EBA, these efforts will come to naught. The CRF appeals to the EU to save the livelihoods of half a million families and to save the work that we have done to earn your respect, that of consumers and that of those we serve.
Seek but a grain of truth before you act.
SOURCE The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF)
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