Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu Oil & Gas is considering building a biomass plant in Battambang province to use cassava to produce fuel, a Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) official says.
Leng Chreang, director of mine risk education at CMAC, said the Japanese firm is one year into a three-year study looking at whether farmers in Battambang province – an area littered with unexploded mines – can supply the amount of cassava needed to power such a plant.
“Idemitsu has been doing contract farming – covering more than 100 hectares land – since 2013. If the first year trial is a success, the company will expand the contract farming area to 2,000 hectares and beyond to study more the feasibility of cassava production for such a plant,” Chreang said, adding that the price of building such a facility remains uncertain.
Chreang said cassava production from at least 15,000 hectares will be needed to supply the facility. He said the plant could be operational by 2017, provided the study is successful.
Chhim Vichara, director of agriculture department at Battambang province, said the plant will provide a sustainable market for local farmers.
“Battambang has great potential for cassava production. Farmers here produce a total of nearly 2 million tonnes of cassava annually on 60,000 hectares of land,” he said.
“More processing plants means farmers will be less worried about having a market for their products.”