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Cassava plantings decrease

120723_07
A worker lays cassava out to dry on a plantation in Sala Krao district in Pailin province last year. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Cassava plantings in Battambang province dropped more than 18 per cent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2011, according to agriculture officials.

Deputy Director of Battambang’s Agricultural Department Chhim Vuthra said the planting of cassava decreased from 66,000 hectares (hc) to 54,000hc in the first six months of this year.

The decease is a result of that previous year’s yield fetching a low price and farmers having no place to store cassava after harvesting, resulting in damage to the produce and a lower quality yield which traders showed no interest in, he said.

In April a shipment of 1,600 tonnes of cassava was blocked at the border to Thailand but was eventually let through once the traders had been granted expediated licenses for the sale of cassava.

Other difficulties have plagued Cambodian cassava growers, such as Thailand requesting Cambodia to curb its exports to the neighbouring kingdom in an effort to maintain Thailand's own high prices.

Chea Kea, a local trader based in Pailin, said he planted red corn instead of cassava on about 1,000hc, but the corn did not grow well because of insufficient rainfall last season.

He thinks the price of the cassava is unstable for the coming harvest and is unsure whether it will increase as first he needs to see the market.

Chhim Vuthra said that red corn plantings reached 54,000hc in this year compared to last year’s of only 27,000hc across the province for the first six months of 2012.

"The decease in cassava planting will affect the cost, leading to higher prices once the produce is moved to market – a good thing.”

A wholly-Cambodian owned cassava processing plant being built in Battambang province will reportedly add value to the cassava being exported.

Heng Bung Hor, director of the Agricultural Department of Banteay Meanchey province, said the cassava plantings in the province decreased about 2,000hc from 42,000hc last year to 40,000hc this year.

He said that though cassava-growing farmers were affected by the last year's price, cassava is easier to grow than other crops because it is not difficult to take care of and provides a large output. “If the market is good, they will have a lot of benefits.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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