At least three Chinese companies are investing in industrial steaming equipment to use in the phytosanitary treatment of agricultural products for export, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Monday.

This comes in response to the Chinese government’s June 9 official approval of the export of 500,000 tonnes of Cambodian fresh mangoes per year to the country.

Sakhon said Hun Ty Co Ltd opted for building an industrial steam cleaner for pest control instead of the hot-water variety.

He said: “According to a statement from the Chinese, three Chinese companies are in the process of setting up facilities that employ steam treatments to sterilise their crops and exterminate pests, specifically the fly larvae found in mangoes.

“I will inspect the installations in the near future once I’ve received word that the company has completed work on them.”

He said the ministry will also request the Chinese side to inspect and evaluate the premises of companies that set up packaging or thermal phytosanitary treatment equipment, but noted that the general Covid-19 landscape could create delays.

“We can only export fresh mangoes to China as long as we set up processing plants that strictly use steam treatments.

“The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is monitoring the progress of the construction and installation of industrial steaming equipment and machinery for pest control,” Sakhon said.

According to Shanghai-based agricultural market news portal, the cost of steam treatment is much higher than that of hot-water treatment. Chinese regulatory approval of the latter would help alleviate the economic burden on mango producers and exporters based in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Commerce data show that Hun Ty was incorporated on March 12, 2014 with its headquarters in Samrong Teav village, Kraing Thnong commune, Sen Sok district, Phnom Penh.

Ke Monthivuth, the director of the ministry’s Department of Plant Protection and Phytosanitary Office, told The Post on October 6 that as of September, the General Directorate of Agriculture had received applications for the registration of mango plantations and packaging sites from companies, agricultural communities, plantation owners and 45 farms.

It also received applications from 23 companies to build mango-pest control facilities, he said.

To export mangoes to China, he said, Cambodian companies must register their farms and packaging locations with the general directorate and must be recognised by officials from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

“This requires the participation of both local and foreign investors in the construction of steam treatment plants and hot-water treatment plants to sterilise their crops and exterminate pests.” Monthivuth said.

Chhun Daro, the administrative director of the Chinese-owned Cam MJ Agricultural Park Co Ltd, previously told The Post that his company had not yet applied to export fresh mangoes to the Chinese market because it was still in the process of installing machines to kill pests.

“We have not yet installed the machine, because the Covid-19 problem has hampered the process. We are very interested in the fresh mango export market in China,” he said.

Cambodia exported $44.57 million worth of mango products last year, including fresh and dried mango, mango syrup and pickled mango, data from the general directorate show.

The Kingdom has 124,319ha of mango plantations, of which 91,398ha are harvested with an average yield of 15.85 tonnes per hectare per season.