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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian firm buys, dries maize for export

Cambodian firm buys, dries maize for export

Phou Puy, of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, says his company is buying 500 tonnes of corn a day for sale to Vietnam.

A LOCAL company owned by the head of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association said it is buying up to 500 tonnes of maize daily from farmers in western Cambodia to dry for export to the region.

Phou Puy, the president of the CRMA and head of Bai Tang (Kampuchea) Co Ltd, said Tuesday his purchases are helping domestic farmers that have suffered from a lack of markets for their excess maize.

"I am buying between 300 and 500 tonnes of corn daily from two provinces, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey," he said. "This is the first time I have bought corn to dry and export to Vietnam."

Phou Puy said the price of corn is down sharply this year. Corn kernels are selling for around 4 baht (US$0.12) per kilogram, and corn on the cob for 2.5 baht per kilogram.

"Price fluctuations are normal in a free market, so we can't set prices, as it depends on demand," he explained Tuesday. "But the current low prices are hurting farmers' incomes because they spent a lot on their crops, but can only sell them for a low price."

[The ministry] discussed with Vietnam to buy our corn, and we will take a delegation there shortly.

A lack of sufficient capital means he is unable to buy the entire excess crop.
"So I am buying from them, drying the corn, and selling it to other businessmen who export to Vietnam for up to 6 baht a kilogram," he said.

"Then I use that money to buy more."

Heng Chamnab, a corn farmer from Ou Thom village in Battambang province with 50 hectares of land, told the Post on Tuesday that he has struggled to find a market for his crop.

"The price is much lower than last season - at that point we were getting 5 baht for a kilogram of corn on the cob," he said.

Heng Chamnab blamed the slowdown in the global economy for the lower prices experienced in Cambodia.

He said revenues are only slightly above his expenses, but that his sole option is to sell 20-30 tonnes of corn to Thai brokers at a low price.

"We had to pay 100 baht per kilogram for poor-quality seeds, or 150 baht for high-quality seeds," he explained. "Then there were costs of hiring labour, transportation and other input costs - however, this selling price is too low."

Ministry seeks markets
Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry has been working to find new markets for agricultural products, most of which are sold to the Kingdom's neighbours.

"[The ministry] discussed with Vietnam to buy our corn, and we will take a delegation there shortly to seek trade partners," he said.

"We also want to deal with other nations, but many of them require the crops to meet certain standards, which is why we are forced to rely on the neighbouring markets."

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