Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Weaving mats for Vietnam

Weaving mats for Vietnam

Weaving mats for Vietnam

110715_hbn01

Kim Sreng, 30, collecting bundles of reeds destined to be exported to Vietnam. The longer the reeds, the more expensive they are.

Photo by: Hector Bermejo

KIM Sreng is in quality control. Sitting on the floor at the rear of a restaurant in the village of Anlong, the part-time mat maker has a huge pile of grass reeds in front of her.

Weeding out the broken and blackened ones, she places the chosen ones into small bundles ready for tying.

“I am selecting the best quality reeds which we will export to Vietnam,” she says.

Her employer, Chin Khom, explains that his Vietnamese buyers require only the best quality reeds to create mats, which are then exported to South Korea. Cambodians can use discoloured reeds as the mats are then dyed, unlike those destined for Korea.

Although she has weaved mats since she was 15 or 16 years old, for Kim Sreng, now 30, sorting the wheat from the chaff is a relatively recent departure for her.

“I have only done this work for three years,” she says. “I used to weave for the owner [Chin Khom’s wife], but when she started to buy reeds I did this work.”

Working eight hours each day, Kim Sreng earns only 7,000 riel, so she supplements her income by weaving mats for other employers as well as doing farm work.

“I do not have a day off,” she laughs. Today is Sunday.

Chin Khom, 41, has been in the reed mat making business for 20 years, although recently he decided to focus on new business pastures.

“I used my capital to open a petrol station and restaurant when the national road 8 was just completed,” he says. “But I will not reduce [his reed-selling business] I will come back again.”

Whereas in the past he used to buy 20 to 30 tonnes of reeds per month, now he only buys about 10 tonnes.

“When I have more capital I will set up a warehouse to do big business,” he says. “It is easy to do. People come to my restaurant with big trucks of reeds.”

Chin Khom also produces his own mats, which he exports to Thailand and provinces throughout Cambodia.

The price of his mats depends upon the length of the reeds used. The longer they are, the more expensive.

“Some are 5 metres long, others are 2 metres,” he explains.

This year the price for his reeds is higher than previous years.

“Last year it was about 4,000 riel per kilogram for the highest quality reeds, now it is 5,500 riel,” he says.

The higher price reflects the classic supply and demand paradigm.

“The price for the reeds was low last year so many farmers turned to growing lotus,” he says. “But this year the demand from Vietnam is higher and we don’t have enough reeds, so the price goes up.”

INTERPRETER: RANN REUY

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all