Cassava farmers in Banteay Meanchey province had to import seeds from Thailand this season in response to rapidly-changing weather conditions that interfered with seed growth.
Te Haing, a cassava farmer in Banteay Meanchey who planted more than 1,000 hectares this season, told the Post yesterday that the lack of seeds has been a traditional challenge for his business and other farmers in the province.
“Earlier, we faced a drought. [Now we] just [have] huge rain and it is harming cassava planting,” Haing said.
“Some farmers have re-planted [seeds in the same field] two times or at least once already. The majority of farmers just have seed reserves for planting seeds only once and now we need to import new seeds from Thailand for a second or third planting.”
Haing said the imported cassava seeds cost him about 30 baht (3,600 riel) per bunch and he needs to spend about 650,000 riel on seed for 180 bunches to grow cassava on one hectare of land.
Cassava is the second largest agricultural crop in terms of cultivation area for Banteay Meanchey farmers after paddy.
Run Sophanara, head of the agronomy office at the Banteay Meanchey provincial agricultural department, said that the province’s cultivated area for the new planting season is expected to reach 45,000 hectares.
However, he said the dependency on seed imports makes production costs higher, especially for those who have to replant seed once or twice after their initial stock doesn’t grow.
A possible solution to tackle the challenge and ensure stable prices could be the development of more processing facilities in the province, Haing suggested.
“If we have local processing factories, there will be raw cassava demand on a regular basis,” he said. “So we could harvest every time the cassava tree provides seeds to farmers for the next planting.”
He said Cambodian facilities could reduce farmers’ dependency on foreign buyers, give them more markets for their goods and increase their bargaining power and the price.