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Kampot salt trade booms

Heavy rains could boost '08 production

HEAVY rains this year have boosted salt production in Kampot to record levels, harvesters say, adding that they might produce enough to feed the export market to Vietnam.

"If the climate remains good, we will be able to produce as much as 20 tonnes per hectare through early 2009," Ly Seng, a salt harvester, told the Post Monday.

The community owns 4,407 hectares of land and hires as many as 5,000 workers during the harvest season, which runs from November to April.

Last year's harvest took in about 70,000 tonnes of salt.

If current projections are met, this year's production could reach 90,000 tonnes - an increase of nearly 30 percent, Ly Seng said.

Ly Seng is one of a community of nearly 200 salt harvesters in Kampot who have struggled in recent years just to meet domestic demand.

"We can't predict production levels, but we need to produce as much as possible just for our own supplies," he said.

Song Kloeng, chief of distribution for the community, said salt sells for about 400 riels (US$0.10) per kilogram.

In Vietnam, the price increases slightly to 600 riels a kilogram, making exports more lucrative.

A surplus would mean harvesters could supply the export market, he said.

"If we continue to get good rain, we expect our production to be better than ever," he said. 

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