Cassava prices have seen a marked on-year increase in areas near the Thai border, as the harvest reaches 85-90 per cent, according to industry insiders.

This is despite the devastating floods last year that are expected to result in a “slightly” smaller harvest in Pailin and nearby provinces than during the previous season, Pailin provincial Department of Agriculture director Say Sophat told The Post on February 13.

Cassava is typically grown in one crop a year, which is harvested from September to April of the following year, he explained.

“Cassava is essential for the people of Pailin, and is planted almost everywhere. Had there not been any floods at end-2022, the harvest could have been greater,” he added.

The area under cassava cultivation in Pailin this harvest season is about 44,000ha, up from more than 42,000ha in the year-ago period, and nearly 80,000 tonnes are expected to be harvested this season, according to Sophat.

On February 13, farmers’ per-kg selling rates for fresh and dried cassava averaged 3.2-3.3 baht (9.46-9.75 US cents) and seven baht, respectively, up from 2.6-2.7 baht and 6.5 baht in the same time last year, he said.

Normally, about 70-80 per cent of the cassava grown in Pailin is exported by traders to Thailand, while 20-30 per cent is sold to domestic animal feed producers, he added.

Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture director Chhim Vachira confirmed that the cassava harvest in the province is almost complete, and that prices for the crop have risen year-on-year, with fresh and dried cassava going for an average of 350-380 riel (8.52-8.76 US cents) and 700 riel per kg.

However, yields are shaping up to be less than during the previous season, he said.

Regardless, Vachira spoke highly of the cash crop, which he highlighted as a significant contributor to job creation and economic security for many farmers.

Cassava is one of Cambodia’s leading agro-industrial crops and an important export product, contributing about three-to-four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year, as reported by Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak.

To unlock the inherent value of the sector, the government on January 14, 2021 formally launched the National Policy on Cassava 2020-2025 to turn Cambodia into a larger, more sustainable and reliable producer, processor and supplier – for both regional and global markets – of more commercially-valuable products derived from the key cash crop.

From January-November 2022, the Kingdom exported a total of 3,230,185.86 tonnes of cassava and products thereof, with dried chips making up the most at 1,817,168.47 tonnes, followed by fresh tubers (1,331,850 tonnes), tapioca starch (57,067 tonnes) and residues (24,100.39 tonnes), according to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data.

Notable buyers of Cambodian cassava products included Thailand, Vietnam, China, the US, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Malaysia, India and Singapore.