Holiday slowdowns in Thailand have weighed on Cambodia’s cassava crop, with the price per kilogram falling almost 50 per cent in five days.
Cassava purchasers from Thailand – a big export market for Cambodia – have suspended production during the Christmas-New Year holiday, according to Chea Kea, director of the Pailin-based cassava-processing company PB & CK. As a result, prices have dropped significantly.
Y Norn, a cassava farmer from the Sala Krao district of Pailin province, said her crop had fetched 456 riel a kilo, or about US$0.10, earlier in the harvest season but now earned 245 riel a kilo.
“We mainly depend on our farming. So if the price declines, we definitely worry,” Y Norn said.
Pailin-based cassava farmer Ly Theth said was delaying his own harvest because prices were too low.
“The government should find a way to keep the price stable and not let farmers depend on Thailand, which can drop the price any time,” he said.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry official Ngin Chhay, who is in charge of Cambodia’s agricultural products, said yesterday the government was looking to diversify its export markets for cassava and other crops.
“The government is working hard on the issue, such as by asking Chinese companies to invest here directly rather than relying on Thailand and Vietnam,” he said, referring to Thai and Vietnamese brokers who buy from Cambodia and re-export to China.
As a measure to stabilise prices, a deal to export one million tonnes of cassava with a Chinese company would begin soon, he said.
Ngin Chhay also blamed the price declines on intermediary brokers who temporarily stopped buying cassava. He urged farmers to stockpile cassava on the assumption prices would rebound, as Thailand’s yields this year were affected by severe floods.