Cambodian officials in provinces bordering Thailand said the price of Cambodian corn would increase as a result of a reduced supply and a new Thai government policy of importing more corn for animal processing.
The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that the Thai cabinet approved the import of 450,000 tonnes of tariff-free maize from Cambodia and Laos.
Of that amount, Thailand said it plans to import about 250,000 tonnes from Cambodia – 100,000 tonnes in August and 150,000 tonnes between November and January 2014, according the to the Bangkok Post.
Cambodian farmers, however, greeted the new policy warily, expressing doubts as to the effectiveness of the price raise.
Thong Sina, director of Banteay Meanchey province’s Commercial Department, said that many farmers had turned to growing cassava in 2012 due to the difficulties of growing corn, which requires precise amounts of water and fertiliser, as well as more startup capital.
“Corn costs three times more than cassava,” he said. “If I were to forecast right now, I’d say corn output will decrease, so the price will increase in the future.”
He said Cambodian corn relied on the Thai and Vietnamese markets, which import corn for processing into animal feed.
“There will [be] effects on corn prices in our countries, but whether it’s big or small depends on the quantity of output,” he said.
“If the market needs a lot, the corn price will increase.”
According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodian farmers planted 184,872 hectares of corn across the country and cultivated about 770,860 tonnes of corn in 2012, with Battambang,
Preah Vihear, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces leading in production.
Sokh Sathim, deputy director of the Pailin Provincial Department of Commerce, said recently that the price of corn was stable at between seven and eight baht (around $0.23 and $0.27) per kilogram, though prices can rise to up to 11 baht, depending on the type and quality of corn seeds.
Meas Loeun, a farmer who grows corn and cassava on about 50 hectares in Pailin province, said the Thai policies were not new for Cambodian farmers.
The policies are intended to encourage higher corn yields, he said, but a constant labour shortage often hinders harvesting.
“They always issue new policies, but farmers are facing difficulties every time,” he said.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that Cambodia’s total corn exports dropped 42.21 per cent to 20,443.66 tonnes in 2012 from 35,381.63 tonnes in 2011.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at firstname.lastname@example.org