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Chinese firm plans to invest in cotton if second test a success

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Battambang province farmer shows off his cotton crop. Heng Chivoan

Chinese firm plans to invest in cotton if second test a success

Chinese company Jiangsu Lianfa Textile Co Ltd plans to invest in cotton in Pursat province to process fabrics and supply the Kingdom’s garment factories, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Following successful preliminary crop tests, Jiangsu Lianfa is preparing a second test on 180ha in the province’s Bakan district, said the ministry, adding that the firm brought more than 40 varieties of cotton seeds for the test.

The investment project comes a year after Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon visited the company in China’s Jiangsu province last year, it said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

The cotton industry declined during the Khmer Rouge era when nearly all agricultural resources were allocated to rice production.

Between 1965 and 1975, the industry – established by the French – thrived, and thousands of acres of the crop were harvested each year.

Although cotton production continued under the Pol Pot regime, a lack of a market and years of insect infestation led Cambodian farmers to all but give up on it by 1985.

A ministry spokesman Srey Vuthy said Jiangsu Lianfa also planned to build a processing plant but did not know when.

“I think that if this project is successful, it will help restore the cotton industry in Cambodia,” he said.

Provincial Department of Agriculture director Lay Visith told The Post that he and senior ministry officials on Tuesday visited the field.

“I see they are clearing the land and digging a pond, I don’t think they’ll start for at least two more years. I hope that the people living in Pursat province will be able to find new jobs in cotton planting,” said Visith.

He said the company is still in the process of crop testing 44 different kinds of varieties from China.

“They have been tested for their yields, weather and disease resilience, and adaptability to our soil. They’ll probably run two or three seasons worth of tests,” he said.

Garment factories are the engine for the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector. However, raw materials have to be imported.

Sok Vanna, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Industrial Crop, said if a Chinese company were to set up a cotton mill in Cambodia, farmers would flock to cotton planting.

“I say that it’s good if a company plants cotton, there may be farmers who turn to grow cotton instead because they see a demand for it and high prices. They could become interested in cotton growing,” he said.

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