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Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

For VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Cambodia takes the rice prize again. For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference voted Cambodian rice the world's best. This year it shared the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world's rice in 2012. This award may help it increase that amount.

The country's rice industry is small and not well-organized. As a result, large amounts of unmilled, or unprocessed, rice is sent to Thailand and Vietnam where it is sold for a higher price. But rice is very important to Cambodia's economy.

Many Cambodians survive in part by growing rice on small pieces of land. Sok Puthyvuth is the president of the Cambodia Rice Federation. He says they need better seeds, better collection process, storage and logistics. The group has set a target of one million tons of milled rice exported by 2015.

Ket Chhon is Cambodia's deputy prime minister. He says increasing rice exports will improve the lives of many of the country's farmers. But exporter David Van says the country's rice industry continues to suffer from the high cost of electricity and a lack of good seeds. These have been problems for many years. And David Van says the country's rice industry needs to improve the way it markets its product. Cambodia faces other problems too.

Countries like Myanmar also want to increase their rice exports. And Thailand has extra rice, which is forcing down prices. The award for best rice may help Cambodia grow its exports even if it does not reach its million-ton target next year.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Jonathan Evans.