Pork Brunly, a small-scale rubber farmer, examines a rubber tree on his farm in Sampeay, 13 kilometres from Stung Treng.
IT’S hard to imagine as we bump along the road towards his farm, but Pork Brunly is part of the new breed of Cambodian entrepreneurs. In 2007, the farmer bought 60 hectares of land in the village of Sampeay, 13 kilometres from Stung Treng, to grow rubber trees.
“Rubber fetches a very good price,” he says. “It is part of the strategic plan.”
Pork Brunly certainly knows his business. According to Governor Loy Sophat, rubber will play a very important role in the future of Stung Treng. The provincial government has allocated 40,000 hectares of land to the cash crop. About 10,000 hectares have been planted to date, with a further 10,000 hectares scheduled for the next five years. Most of this land has been allocated to commercial rubber companies, but a small amount has been set aside for family rubber plantation owners such as Pork Brunly.
Before turning to rubber, Pork Brunly used to grow cashew trees in neighbouring Ratanakkiri. He sold half of that plantation to raise the capital for his new venture. “Rubber is better business than cashew nuts,” he says.
Since then he has raised capital from ACLEDA Bank. He first borrowed US$10,000 in 2009 and then $32,000 last year, using this money to hire workers to clear the land and plant saplings, which should mature in 2013.
In the meantime, Pork Brunly grows cassava and soya bean. “Cassava is very good business this year,” he says.
Although he can already pay back his loan, Pork Brunly chooses not to, preferring to maintain a good cash flow to enable him to sell crops at the peak of the market.
“ACLEDA is very good because when we lack capital, I can get money,” he says. Not that Pork Brunly is worried about lack of capital. He is even contemplating taking out a further loan to build a small rubber processing plant. TRANSLATION BY RANN REUY