THAI investors met with officials from Banteay Meanchey province last week to discuss a plan to build a jatropha processing factory and plant 1,000 hectares in the crop, which is considered a key candidate for biodiesel production.
The director of the Banteay Meanchey Commerce Department, Kong Bunly, said he met with nine representatives of private firms from Thailand Friday to discuss their plans.
“We told them that we already have 500 hectares of farmland in Thma Puok district they could plant with the crop, and that we would help them find the rest, or they can cooperate with locals,” he said.
He said total investment figures were not discussed but assumed it would be less than US$1 million, meaning the project could be approved locally rather than having to be sent to central government.
No timetable had been determined, but Kong Bunly said he hoped work on the project would commence within a month.
Heng Bunhor, director of the provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department, said the investors were not looking for concession land but were instead seeking to cooperate with landowners in the area to produce the cash crop.
He expected the investors would purchase additional jatropha from surrounding areas, as the proposed capacity of the plant would require more raw material than could be harvested from 1,000 hectares under cultivation.
Around 3,000 hectares in the province have been planted with jatropha out of a total of 30,000 hectares of upland set aside for agriculture, he said. Farmers have planted 26,000 hectares of cassava, he added, which can also be used as a biofuel feedstock.
Kong Bunly said the project would provide jobs and boost the standard of living in the area.