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Farmers bet on rubber boom

CAMBODIA’S rubber plantations will cover up to 180,000 hectares of land next year, according to the Department of Cambodian Rubber, as rubber hits record global prices.

Ly Phalla, general director of the Department of Cambodian Rubber, told The Post yesterday that the Kingdom’s total rubber plantations are expected to grow to 180,000 hectares in 2011, a 6.6 percent increase on this year’s 168,800 hectare total.

“We hope that the high price provides opportunities to help increase more rubber plantations because the farmers are more confident about taking advantage of this crop,” he said.

Rubber prices hit an all-time high this week as persistent rains in major rubber producing countries, including Thailand, the world’s biggest exporter, have hurt supply, while demand has remained strong.

The Thai cash price for the commodity advanced to a record 148.05 baht (US$4.91) per kilogramme on Wednesday as the contract for June-delivery, listed on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, advanced to ¥417 per kilogramme (US$4,975 a tonne).

Men Sopheak, deputy managing director of Sopheak-

Nika Investment Group Co Ltd, which has 16,000 hectares of rubber plantations Kampong Cham province and Kampong Thom province, said his company would add another 650 hectares of plantation in 2011.

However, he would have liked to expand more to take advantage of the rising prices.

“We want to grow more rubber plants in order to get its potential benefits, but we don’t have adequate land,” he said.

The company exported about 10,000 tonnes of rubber this year for prices between $4,550 to $4,600 per tonne, he said.

Leng Rithy, president of Vietnamese Rubber Enterprise Federation, said his 17-company association would also expand its Cambodian plantations off the back of high prices.

“We plan to grow more rubber plants in the future, given the high price of rubber,” he said. “It has been more actively motivating our expansion plan.”

The association may increase its coverage by 2,500 hectares, adding to its 27,400 hectares across five provinces in 2010.

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