Cambodia produced more that 13 million tonnes of cassava last year, a drop on 2017 despite a six per cent increase in cultivation to 650,510ha nationwide, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The data shows Cambodia produced 13,750,076 tonnes of cassava last year, a slight decrease from 13,817,262 tonnes in 2017. Cultivation increased six per cent from 612,861ha to 650,510ha.
A ministry official said he expects production to see an increase this year following the construction of a Kratie-based cassava processing factory, scheduled to be completed in May.
Ker Monthivuth, Department of Plant Protection Sanitary and Phytosanitary director under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the decrease in yield was due to climate change and pesticide damage.
However, he said with the influx of new investors, the entire industry would see a change with higher production.
“Climate change and disease have impacted production. However, new investors are coming into our industry; it will help provide new climate-resilient, high-producing seeds which are resistant to pesticides."
“Having a local processing plant, our cassava prices will be more stable and no longer fluctuate as they have done relying on neighbour [countries’] markets,” Monthivuth said.
Hong Kong-based Green Leader Holding Group Limited and the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP) signed a cost-sharing agreement in August to implement an $800,000 project to accelerate the cassava market.
The project will take nearly three-and-a-half years, with Green Leader investing $500,000 and UNDP $300,000. It will provide contract farming, new technology and financial support.
Green Holding CEO Michael Tse said the Kingdom’s cassava sector has potential for growth under its cooperation with UNDP.
Green Leader is currently overseeing the construction of a $20 million cassava processing factory on 20ha in Kratie province’s Snuol district which will be completed in May.
The plant will have the capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes of tapioca per year – a haul that would require 400,000 tonnes of raw cassava from local farmers.
“We are setting up 27 farmer cooperatives around the factory. We help farmers not just by buying cassava, but also by teaching them how to plant and increase their yields,” he said.
Phorn Borak, a farmer in Pailin province with 30ha of land, said the market is currently acceptable. He said he can sell fresh cassava at 250 riel (6.2 US cents) per kg and dried cassava at around 700 riel per kg.
“The market is currently good, we can profit a little bit,” he said. “But we still sell to Thailand if we feel unsafe as the market can change anytime."
“However if a local source here would buy [cassava] from us and process it, it would secure our prices and we as farmers would not be as concerned about the market anymore,” he said.