Kampong Cham native SiemEng Meng is proving women can thrive in the agriculture business. As a young woman with little experience, she ventured into cassava farming and, along with her husband, turned it into a successful business – becoming an important cassava planter and trader in Krouch Chhmar district. She shares her success story.
Could you describe your business briefly?
At a young age I didn’t have much knowledge about agriculture. But after marrying my husband in 2000, I was ready to take a risk in operating my own farm with my husband's support.
With a small capital plus an agriculture loan from Amret, I ventured into cassava planting on five hectares of land. While cultivating the crop, I figured out a way to expand my business by buying cassava from neighbouring farmers. This is to increase my stock levels.
I purchase at a price that allows me to gain some profit by selling to traders in Vietnam. Normally, I sell fresh cassava at an average price of 400 riel [$0.1] per kilogram. During the harvest season, I can easily export 10 to 15 trucks of cassava daily, with about 20 tonnes per truck.
What is your role as a trader and how do you identify your market?
As a trader, I buy large quantities of cassava from other farmers and add this to my own crop. When we have sufficient quantities, my husband exports directly to local and international markets.
It is market practice to export fresh cassava, and that is our daily priority. Finding a market is not a major concern, for as long there is good demand for cassava and since our province is located close to the Vietnam border, it is easy for us to access markets.
What are your business challenges and how did you deal with them?
Diseases and insects are every farmer's concern, but that doesn’t mean we cannot deal with them. In order to solve the problem, every farmer should understand the planting process to tackle the menace in a timely manner. Pesticides are a solution, but they should be used in moderation without damaging the crop and the soil.
Do you consider yourself a successful cassava trader?
At this point, I cannot say I am a hugely successful trader. I still need to gain more knowledge and experience in this agriculture trade.
But if you ask whether I am satisfied with my current business achievements, I can say that I am happier than ever before, and even able to contribute to society in some way. In addition to providing higher education for my children, I am able to offer part-time jobs for the people in my district.
What is your future goal?
I don't set many long-term goals, but my plan now is to expand the cultivation area so that I can become the top cassava trader in my province and export the crop to more countries.
What’s your advice to those entering the business world?
Firstly, they must have specific goals. And as each business has its ups and downs, they need to be aware of the risks involved and be prepared to deal with difficulties along the way. They should also have a large enough budget to meet any unexpected financial needs to operate their business.