The Kingdom exported 2,793,729.92 tonnes of cassava in 2021, up by nearly 22.1 per cent from a year earlier, as industry players note that domestic wholesale prices of the tubers remain elevated compared with average 2020 rates.

Analysed by category, the Kingdom shipped out 1,644,591.68 tonnes of dried cassava (up 8.45 per cent year-on-year), 1,104,220 tonnes of fresh roots (up 52.6 per cent), 35,862.74 tonnes of starch (up 2.66 per cent) and 9,054.50 tonnes of pulp (down 33.06 per cent), according to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data released on January 13.

Chan Muoy, cassava trader and owner of a silo in Battambang province’s northwesternmost Sampov Loun district, told The Post that the market for fresh and dried cassava was stronger than in 2020.

She said the per-tonne rate of dried cassava had risen by nearly 100,000 riel ($24.50) from average 2020 levels to the current 760,000-790,000 riel range, while fresh roots jumped from around 300,000 riel last year to some 330,000 riel now.

The price hike was due in part to a surge in Chinese demand for Cambodian cassava, driven by insufficient supplies from Thailand, according to Muoy.

“There’s lots of demand from the Chinese, and they want superior cassava, so they require us to dry it well before they offer us large sums to ship back to their country,” she said, suggesting a general improvement in quality over 2020 crops.

Em Sophoan, another silo owner and cassava trader in the same district, noted that production last year was similar to 2020 levels when the Kingdom was struck by a series of floods that damaged or destroyed swathes of crops.

These conditions prompted many farmers to turn to other crops, while others seemingly neglected their cassava fields, resulting in lacklustre yields for 2021, she pointed out.

She shared that purchases of fresh and dried cassava for her silo started in mid-November and had reached about 10,000 tonnes to date, sourced from all of Battambang’s districts, as well as other provinces such as Pailin, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey.

Both silo owners mentioned that there were no major obstacles in the transport of agricultural products to sell at the Thai border, but that in general, only a single person per vehicle is allowed to enter, if they carry the proper health certificates.

Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout recently told The Post that cassava prices in the province at end-2021 were similar to 2020, and that around 70 per cent of the crop harvested in Battambang and nearby provinces is exported to neighbouring countries.

Vietnam was the largest buyer of Cambodian cassava last year, at 1,381,271.56 tonnes, followed by Thailand (1,298,195.8 tonnes), mainland China (203,918.71 tonnes) the ministry said, naming Italy, Belgium, and the US as notable importers.

Cassava is one of Cambodia’s leading agro-industrial crops. In 2020, Cambodia officially announced the “National Policy on Cassava 2020-2025” in order to step up production and commercialise it for export.