Mong Reththy and British Ambassador David Reader discuss the merits of a Stung Treng jatropha plantation. Residents in the area apeared to welcome the idea. "The area is a forest and a malaria site," said local villager Sok Kimseng.
Mong Reththy Group is considering an agreement with British firm D1 Oils to plant
jatropha trees in Stung Treng province.
Mong Reththy, president of Mong Reththy Group and a Cambodian People's Party senator,
said if the memorandum of understanding is signed his Green Sea Agriculture company
and the UK-based D1 Oils will plant jatropha - a versatile plant common in Cambodia
whose seeds can be crushed into an oil.
Mong Reththy said D1 Oils would invest $300 million in planting and $100 million
in production facilities.
"We are learning from each other," Reththy said, "I hope the agreement
will be signed soon."
A delegation led by British Ambassador David Reader visited agro-industrial development
zone at Stung Treng province on September 28. Within the zone Mong Reththy has a
70-year, 100,000-hectare land concession from the government.
The company received the concession before the 2001 land law, which limited such
concessions to 10,000 hectares.
Mong Reththy said the investment looks timely because of the rapidly rising cost
of petrol and increased fuel needs in Cambodia.
According to Biodiesel Cambodia, Jatropha Curcas is found all over the country. It
is often used as a live fence to protect agricultural fields against damage by livestock
because it is unpalatable to cattle. It is known in Khmer as "lahong kwong."
Seeds from its fruit are crushed to extract raw oil used for making soap, candles,
and biodiesel fuel.
Reththy estimated that the project would ultimately require half a million laborers
over the long term to live permanently on the site.
Patrick O'Leary, D1 Oil's regional director of operations for Africa and Asia, said
the company has 200,000 hectares of jatropha throughout the world. D1 is investigating
the potential for growth in Cambodia.
"We are considering the scope of capital for investment on this project,"
Ambassador Reader said more discussions with Mong Reththy group are planned.
People in Siem Pang district questioned by the Post said they were happy to hear
about such a big investment project in their area.
"The area is a forest and a malaria site," said Sok Kimseng, a local villager.
"We want the company to develop and we will work for them."
Stung Treng Deputy Governor Long Phall said he welcomed the investment too, because
it would provide jobs for people in the province.
Sat Samy, under secretary of state at Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, said
Cambodia offers good potential for planting jatropha, and such plantations will not
impact the environment.
He said a Malaysian firm called Top Rank E.S. Agriculture is already grown jatropha
on 20 hectares of land in Treng Trayeung in Kampong Speu and plans to plant one thousand
"I noticed that more companies are interested in planting jatropha in the last
four years," Samy said. "Local people also planted jatropha privately."
He said five kg of jatropha fruit could produce about one liter of biodiesel. The
current market price is about 400 riel ($0.10) per kilogram.
Mong Reththy Group comprises six companies, with involvement in deep-water ports
in Sihanoukville, palm oil plantations, construction, sugar, and Green Sea Agriculture.