Experts in the rice sector have expressed their fears over the ban in exporting milled rice containing the chemical Tricyclazole to the European Union (EU), while the government is trying to educate and spread word of the ban to farmers.
The EU commission has announced that Cambodia’s milled rice industry must eradicate the use of Tricyclazole by June and that exports of Cambodian rice must not contain more than 0.01 milligrams of the chemical per kilogram this year or it will face bans.
The bans will affect Cambodia’s milled rice exports if the use of the chemical is not stopped quickly, said Hun Lak, the vice-president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, a private body involved in exporting Cambodian rice to foreign markets.
“We are worried about the EU’s ban because the EU is the biggest market for Cambodia’s milled rice exports. So the ban on Tricyclazole is facing a problem during the rice planting season because farmers usually use chemicals to protect their rice from diseases,” Mr. Lak said.
He added that educating farmers on eradicating the use of Tricyclazole needs time so they can be prepared and find new chemical fungicides to be used instead of Tricyclazole.
“By June, the CRF thinks that the deadline is too close for finding new fungicides to be used instead of Tricyclazole and if farmers keep using Tricyclazole, it will be a big problem and we cannot produce rice for export to the EU,” he said.
“Educating farmers about fungicides takes time – three or four months is not enough.”
However Hean Vanhan, the director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Agriculture Directorate, said he is not worried about the ban affecting rice exports.
The ban will only affect those who use the Tricyclazole fungicide and agriculture officials are working to educate them by finding new fungicides to use instead, Mr. Vanhan said.
“We are preparing other fungicides for farmers to use instead of Tricyclazole and are educating farmers on follow the technical use of products,” he said.
Sang Saron, the CEO of Amru Rice Cambodia, said there are many methods of using fungicide that farmers can choose, but he warned that using some fungicides are real concerns for farmers.
“There are many ways to use a fungicide to protect rice from diseases, not only with Tricyclazole, but by both traditional methods and chemical methods,” he said.
“But the concerns are how to use those fungicides on a technical level,” he added, referring to a lack of knowledge about fungicides among farmers.
Mr. Saron hopes that by educating farmers on the use of fungicides that the sector will be improved.
The Agriculture Ministry is seeking a budget to run workshops to educate people about using fungicides following technical methods in order to keep the EU market open for Cambodia’s rice exports, according to Mr. Vanhan.
The EU market took about 63 percent of Cambodia’s total exports of milled rice last year.