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Cassava farmers plead for gov’t help

Cassava farmers plead for gov’t help

Cassava farmers are calling on the government to standardise prices and help stabilise demand as the market for the root crop continues to prove risky for growers.

Cassava exports totalled 226,000 tonnes in the first six months of the year, down 21 per cent from a year ago, yet earnings for the cassava-export market rose 20 per cent in the same period, reaching $18 million.

The price increase has been reluctantly welcomed by farmers, who are tired of the crop’s volatile price and fluctuating market demand.

“The price is up today and down tomorrow. Farmers are taking big risks of losing money if crops cannot be sold at a good price,” Pailin province cassava trader Song Sarum said.

She said the price rise was due to a poor harvest and a stockpile shortage in February and March.

Sarum said the rising price had begun to taper off this month, but she maintained the government should intervene.

“There should be a standard price and stable market for crops that farmers produce according to market standards,” she said.

But Khan Samban, director of the Agro-Industry Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said stablising the price of cassava per tonne was not an option.

“Increases in price are simply because of higher demand from Thailand and Vietnam, which are the main importers. It is about demands from the buyers, which we cannot control,” Samban said.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Ken Ratha asked the farmers for patience.

“The minister recognises this is an issue. It will take time as we want to provide a long-term solution for our farmers and give them reliable information about market demand and where they can export their products to,” he said.

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