Prahok makers are down-sizing their 2001 production due to a tripling in the price
of salt, one of the local fish paste delicacy's key ingredients.
Mom Sen, Chief of the Phnom Penh fisheries office, confirmed that salt prices had
increased from 200 riels per kilo in 2000 to 700 riels per kilo in 2001.
Salt merchants on Sisowath Boulevard in Phnom Penh are now selling imported Chinese
salt, which at 600 riels per kilo is marginally less expensive than the domestic
At the famous prahok production area of Kampong Loung along the Tonle Sap, about
40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh, the complaints about the salt price hike come
fast and furiously.
"I can't make much Prahok this year because salt costs are too high," said
43-year-old Nuth An of Udong District.
The impact of the salt price increase on the prahok industry was notable during the
first kneuth (waxing of the full moon) at Kampong Loung.
The kneuth invariably brings bumper yields of fish used to make prahok. During the
Kneuth this month at Kampong Loung, a huge amount of fish was caught.
However, fishermen have complained that relatively few prahok producers have showed
up to buy the catch compared with previous years.
In Kampot, the center of Cambodia's salt production, Governor Ly Sour blamed the
price hikes on high rainfall that disrupted normal salt production levels.
Lao Meng Se, director of Pheapimix Salt Production Company in Kampot, which has a
Government monopoly on salt production in the Kingdom, agreed with Sour's assessment.
According to Se, the freakish weather of the past year had caused salt production
levels to plummet to their lowest level in 40 years, prompting Pheapimex to take
the unprecedented step of importing 10,000 tons of salt from China to make up for
Cambodia's salt production, which averages 80,000 tons a year, was expected to be
far lower in 2000-2001, Se added.
"I am very worried about salt production this year because of the weather,"
"Our company is responsible for the salt supply in this country and we worry
about the effect that higher prices might have on consumers.''