Investment in Cambodian rubber plantations increased by 255 per cent in 2011 on rising global demand for the commodity.
There were 20 new projects worth US$675 million in the Kingdom last year, according to data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia. There were nine projects worth $190 million in 2010.
Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s last rubber-planting destinations.
The majority of the investment came from Asian countries as a result of increased global demand for rubber, in particular demand from the tyre industry.
“I think [investors] see potential for making higher profit with rubber compared to other agricultural products, which don’t have a stable market. Rubber has mainly followed the global trend,” Ly Phalla, director-general of Cambodia’s General Directorate of Rubber, said yesterday.
The jump in 2011 rubber investments surpassed a 2015 government goal on plantation size by about 60,000 hectares, Mak Kim Hong, president of the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia, said.
The government originally aimed for 150,000 hectares of rubber plantations by 2015. Last year, there were 210,000 hectares.
According to official data from the ministry of commerce, rubber exports last year totalled 46,727 tonnes worth $200.9 million, compared with 30,040 tonnes, valued at $86.8 million, in 2010.
Most of the investment came from Vietnam, China, South Korea and Malaysia, Mak Kim Hong said.
About 50 per cent of the plantations were government-granted concessions in Mondulkiri, Rattanakkiri, Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces, he said.
Rubber plantations in Cambodia have also been at the heart of repeated eviction disputes and claims of environmental destruction.
More than 3,000 villagers faced evictions in Kampong Cham province in November when rubber companies were granted concessions on the land.
The inhabitants were offered $600 per family by way of compensation.