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Silk board looks to revive flagging sector

The recently established National Silk Board is looking to tighten regulations and boost investor confidence in Cambodia’s silk industry, as well as create a policy for silk promotion in the future.

The board, created by the Ministry of Commerce in March, is currently collecting data and information from industry stakeholders to create a clear overview of the sector, which has so far been functioning independent of a central body, said Mao Thora, the president of the National Silk Board (NSB).

“We are now discussing the direction of the sector, and the first thing we will do is collect data on the development of silk and list the responsibility of those involved,” Thora explained.

“Forming an association for golden silk producers is what we are looking at. We will also introduce them to contract farming so production can take off,” he added.

The work to revive the silk sector will be done step by step and according to the national budget available for NSB, Thora said.

According to industry representatives, the new body will need to do a lot of work to revive the sector, which has been in decline over the last few years.

Men Sinoeun, executive director of Artisans' Association of Cambodia, an organisation that helps support Cambodian handmade products, said production of golden silk has decreased from 10 tonnes a year in 2008 to less than 1 tonne currently.

“Producing golden silk requires a huge and long-term investment. If the government does not have enough budget for this, they should attract the private sector to invest as the price of golden silk now is good,” he said.

Sinoeun said last December that the demand for golden silk stands at around 300 tonnes per year.

The price has increased from $60 per kilogram five years ago to $90 per kilogram last year, though producers have been unable to take advantage of this price rise.

The NSB was first floated in June 2013 by then-minister of commerce Cham Prasidh, but was delayed as the involved ministries failed to coordinate their efforts, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman said in June last year.

The government plans to apply for Geographical Indication (GI) status for golden silk, validating its origin in a bid to increase its value in the market.

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