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Banana exports booming despite pandemic

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Workers at a Longmate Agriculture-owned banana farm in Kampot province’s Chhouk district. Heng Chivoan

Banana exports booming despite pandemic

Cambodia exported 72,182 tonnes of fresh yellow bananas to international markets during the first three month of this year, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said.

Most of the bananas were exported to China, with the rest being shipped to Vietnam and Japan.

Cambodia’s yellow banana exports to China have increased rapidly since the first shipment of bananas was sent in mid-2019.

Last year, Cambodia exported a total 157,812 tonnes of yellow bananas and on average, it exports an average of more than 795 tonnes of bananas per day, the report said.

Hun Lak, the director of Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd, which invests in 1,000ha of banana plantations in Kampot province, told The Post on Monday that China is the biggest market for his company.

“At this point, we cannot export bananas fast enough to meet the demand in China. We are not thinking about expanding our market to other countries.

“We expect our company to have a similar yield as last year because of the hot weather and the lack of water. However, the novel coronavirus does not affect the export of agricultural products, including the yellow banana,” Lak said.

He said more than 400ha were harvested for bananas last year, and his company exported more than 10,000 tonnes of bananas to China.

Ngin Chhay, the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture, said there are nine banana plantations and packaging facilities in Cambodia which have received approval from Chinese authorities for export to the country.

These include Longmate, Long Sreng Hua Jian Agriculture Development Co Ltd, Reen Island Agricultural Development (Cambodia) Ltd, Sovann Reachsey Co Ltd, and Agricultural Development (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

Four exporters have recently received the same privilege – Hoang Anh Andong Meas, Hoang Anh Lumphat, Daun Penh Agrico and Binhphuoc Kratie Rubber 2 – all of which are owned by the same parent firm, the Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai Agricultural JSC (HAGL Agrico), Chhay said.

Speaking at the inauguration of the four banana packing plants in Ratanakkiri province in December, Minister Veng Sakhon said his ministry has been striving to cooperate with Chinese authorities so that more Cambodian companies can obtain banana export rights to China.

“Getting permission from Chinese authorities to allow more Cambodian companies to export bananas will help boost exports to the Chinese market in the coming years,” Sakhon said.

Data from the directorate shows that from the third quarter of last year, three major yellow banana farms existed in Cambodia. They are located in Ratanakkiri, Kratie and Kampot provinces and have a total area of 4,996ha – all for export.

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