Cambodia exported over 260,000 tonnes of fresh bananas to international markets in the first 11 months of 2023, a decrease of nearly 24% compared to the same period last year, with the majority being exported to China, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The ministry’s report attributes the decline to the current global economic downturn, which has significantly impacted international trade flows, leading to reduced orders for various goods. 

According to the ministry’s National Phytosanitary Database (NPD), from January to November 2023, a total of 263,117 tonnes were exported, marking a 23.84% decrease from the 345,470 tonnes exported during the same period in 2022.

In November alone, Cambodia exported 25,125 tonnes of fresh bananas, primarily to China, Vietnam and Japan. 

Hun Lak, CEO of Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd, which operates a large banana plantation in Kampot province for exports to the Chinese market, explained to The Post on December 7 that the decline is due to two main factors: adverse weather leading to pest infestations and lower international market prices as of October 2023 compared to 2022. 

He noted that about 95% of the country’s banana exports go to China, with smaller amounts to Vietnam and Japan.

“The decreasing amount of [exports] is a result of both internal and external factors. Over 95% of our exports go to China, so if the Chinese economy falters, banana prices will fall as well,” he stated.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2023 and into 2024, Lak remains optimistic about the prospects of increasing exports of the commodity to the world’s second-largest economy, observing a series of positive signs in sales since November. 

Cambodian bananas first reached China in May 2019, becoming the first Cambodian fruit officially exported there.

Kampot governor Mao Thornin highlighted the efforts of provincial authorities and specialised departments in supporting agricultural cultivation to bolster domestic supply and export growth. 

“Currently, the company is focusing on increasing banana cultivation. If this is successful, we plan to expand the … areas further with the involvement of the local community and residents,” he stated.

He noted that expanding cultivation in Kampot will not only boost income but also enhance the daily lives of local people and create more local job opportunities.

In 2022, the Kingdom exported 367,400 tonnes of fresh bananas, a 13% decrease compared to the previous year. Of this, approximately 330,000 tonnes were sent to China, over 36,000 tonnes to Vietnam and more than 2,800 tonnes to Japan, as reported by the agriculture ministry.