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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pailin farmers welcome the resumption of Thai trade

Pailin farmers welcome the resumption of Thai trade

090427_14.jpg
090427_14.jpg

Provincial authorities say Thailand has agreed to renew its purchase of cassava from Cambodia by the end of April

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Traders at the Poipet border crossing between Cambodia and Thailand. After a six-month closure, Thais say they will resume purchases of Cambodian cassava, according to Pailin’s deputy governor.

PAILIN province's deputy governor said that Thailand will resume cassava purchases by the end of April after a delegation from the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Trat met with provincial authorities on Sunday.

Thailand stopped purchasing Cambodian cassava last November, sparking an outcry from local authorities.

"They said that they will be able to buy our cassava, but I am not sure how many tonnes they will be able to buy from us," Ieng Vuth, deputy governor of Pailin province, told the Post Sunday. "They just said they can buy from us from April 30 this year," he said.   

Ieng Vuth said 6,000 to 7,000 families plant cassava in Pailin and that about 8,000 hectares need to be harvested to meet last year's demand - the equivalent of 150,000 tonnes.

"Last year we produced around 200,000 tonnes of fresh cassava, which we sold for 1.7 baht [US$0.04] per kilo. This year, dried cassava cost 2.2 baht while fresh cassava sold at .03 baht, which was too low for local farmers," he said. "Now we worry that when Thailand comes back to buy dried cassava from us again, we will not be able to produce it for them because it is rainy season."

Te Haing, who owns a 1,000-hectare cassava farm in Banteay Meanchey province, said Thursday that some Cambodian business owners have recently placed orders.  

"Cambodian businessmen have bought around 50-100 tonnes of my cassava a day to send to Phnom Penh," he said, adding that he is offering .9 baht per kilogram.

"Before we had no one to buy it, and now we have many orders," Te Haing says, adding that Thai businessmen have also told him that they will be allowed to import cassava soon.

"I told other cassava farmers about this news, and they are happy to hear it," Te Haing said.

Yean Thoeun, who has a 50-hectare cassava farm in Pailin province, says the news has given him hope.

"A few months ago I was hopeless and had no money to pay workers. Now I have hope because I was told Thai authorities will allow cassava into their country again," Yean Thoeun says.

According to Thon Virak, deputy director general at the Foreign Trade Department, Cambodia produced over 2 million tonnes of cassava in 2008 and was expected to produce the same in 2009. Cambodia has two processing factories that turn dry cassava into flour, which can then be used for anything from fertilisers to skin creams. The two factories - one outside of Phnom Penh and one in Kampong Cham - can produce 1 million tonnes of dry cassava a year. However, no factories in Cambodia can handle wet cassava. Thon Virak said the price of dry cassava increased from US$75 per tonne in January to US$125 per tonne in late March.

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