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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sihanoukville is ripe for rubber production

Sihanoukville is ripe for rubber production

Mong Reththy Group invests heavily in rubber plantation and calls for crop expansion along Cambodia’s coastal provinces

MONG Reththy Group (MRG) has invested US$10 million to grow rubber on 5,000 hectares of land on Sihanoukville’s coastline, company president Mong Reththy revealed Thursday.

The group is set to seed 1,000 hectares of trees near to Snake Island’s Oknha Mong Port later this year. Rubber produced from the cash crop is set to be exported to international markets.

The company plans to increase the plantation’s size until all 5,000 hectares of its concession in Steung Hav district are utilised, Mong Reththy said.

“We hope that the free land which has not been used can be added to a bigger rubber plantation in the future,” the tycoon added.

MRG also plans to build infrastructure around the plantation, with a $5 million rubber-processing factory planned for 2013.

When complete, the factory will produce 3 tonnes of rubber per hour.

The project received official approval on June 14 from the Centre for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to its deputy secretary general Duy Thov.

“We believe the project will create job opportunities for Cambodian people and will serve as a source of income for the economy for a long time into the future,” he stated.

Rubber trees have been cultivated in Sihanouk before.

Plantations overseen by French colonists were set up around 1910, but the rubber industry subsequently decided to focus on Kampong Cham where, tens of thousands of hectares of trees were planted.

However, in recent times, the four provinces along Cambodia’s south coast have not seen many commercial rubber plantations eyeing export opportunities.

Mong Reththy told the Post Thursday that the Kingdom’s coastal areas are ready for rubber plantations.

He encouraged land owners from Koh Kong to Kep to plant the crop, as it was seeing increasing market demand.

Though his company plans to grow only 5,000 hectares at present, he said the coastal areas of Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, and Kep provinces had a total of 100,000 hectares that could yield as much as 2 tonnes of rubber per hectare.

Rubber is already being successfully produced in other Southeast Asian coastal regions, such as Thailand’s Song Khla province.

Rubber can be grown nearly everywhere because it is not a soil-selective crop and yields are not overdependant on the application of technology, said Cambodian Rubber Association president Mork Kim Hong.

“I think that growing rubber at the coastal area is a good project because it will help create a greener environment and would be an income source for people,” he said.

Mong Reththy also plans to boost community earning power.

The company plans to grow 1 million rubber seedlings per year, both for its own use and to sell to farmers in Cambodia’s coastal areas, increasing the land under plantation.

“We will germinate rubber trees to sell to farmers who want to grow them so, that they will have jobs in Cambodia, in order to help reduce emigration,” he said.

Mong Reththy anticipates hiring around 1,000 locals on the rubber plantation in the project’s first year, with plans to employ a total of 3,000 workers by 2013.

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