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DuPont to sell farming products in Cambodia

091203_07
A woman sells corn last month on a Phnom Penh street. Three of Dupont's hybrid corn varieties have been approved in the Kingdom.

US giant’s hybrid seeds, crop-protection products win approval

US multinational DuPont launched eight of its chemical crop-protection products and three varieties of its Pioneer Hi-Bred corn seeds in Cambodia on Wednesday after winning approval from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Although DuPont’s agricultural products have been available in the Kingdom previously through third parties – as has its car paint line Centari – the Delaware-based chemical giant will now offer its seeds as part of a service that will include training and local outreach for farmers, an approach it has already taken in six other ASEAN countries.

“We think this is not a dropped-shipment type of business. It requires a lot of face-to-face interaction. We come in to Cambodia offering full service,” Carl Lukach, president of DuPont Asia Pacific, said at an official launch in Phnom Penh.

Domestic firm Nokorthom Agriculture Development will distribute eight of DuPont’s crop-protection chemical products within Cambodia, including Prevathon and Steward lines of insecticides, as well as herbicides and fungicides.

The company has not confirmed distributors for its three Pioneer Hi-Bred corn seed hybrids, used primarily for livestock feed.

DuPont executives said that Wednesday’s launch was just the beginning of its sales efforts in the Kingdom, and that other products will follow.

“We intend to go aggressive into the Cambodian market. We will gauge if we are successful, if we are reaching through, but we will err on the aggressive side,” said Hsing Ho, DuPont’s director for business development in South and East Asia.

The company – which produces 35,000 products from the technology behind bulletproof vests to genetically modified seeds – opened its Cambodia office in March 2008 and employs just four staff members, but Ho said it would expand.

Lukach and Sakorn Tripetchpisal, the Thailand country manager for Pioneer, predicted that DuPont’s corn seeds could help Cambodia improve its yield from an average of less than 6 tonnes per hectare to levels similar to those in the United States, which is close to 11 tonnes per hectare.

“We have the technology to improve this,” said Lukach.

According to company statistics, corn is grown on about 100,000 hectares in the Kingdom, making it the second-most prevalent crop behind rice, which occupies a much larger area at more than 2.5 million hectares.

DuPont rice seeds planned
Lukatch said hybrid rice seeds were also planned for Cambodia, but did not give details of the specific products or timeline.

“The growth drivers in agriculture are outstanding. The demand side keeps growing, but acreage is not going up much. That’s where we come in,” he told the Post.

Tout Saravuth, DuPont’s representative in Cambodia, said the Ministry of Agriculture had conducted testing on its seeds before approval.

“DuPont’s [newly introduced products] will increase food production in Cambodia; it will help farmers with more income by increasing their productivity, which is directly involved in poverty eradication in rural areas,” Lim Sokun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said at the launch.

DuPont generated US$800 million in sales in ASEAN last year. Lukach told a media forum in Jakarta last week that DuPont expected 2009 revenues to fall around 15 percent in ASEAN on the back of the economic crisis.

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