China gave $400,000 to Cambodia yesterday for a cooperation project to provide technical training in cassava cultivation, with the aim to move Cambodian cassava up market.
The financing was signed yesterday through the trilateral co-operation between China, Cambodia and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Lu Zhouxiang, first secretary at the department of international trade and economic affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce said that by seeing requests for assistance from the Cambodian side, China and the UNDP decided to further co-operate to provide technical assistant on cassava plantation in the Kingdom.
“[The teamwork] aims to move Cambodian producers, processors and exporters of cassava up the value chain,” Lu said, adding that the project will contribute to Cambodia’s efforts in capacity building and diversifying export items.
This financial support is the second phase since the start of trilateral co-operation, which will last until September 2014. In the first phase, China funded $212,000 to support 30 Cambodian officers to train in cassava cultivation techniques, which was completed early last year.
Cassava is Cambodia’s second most important crop in terms of cultivation area, and plays a very important role in Cambodia’s agriculture and development.
Last year the country’s cassava cultivation area reached totally 337,000 hectares, producing about eight million tonnes of fresh cassava and generated between $200 million to $300 million, including formal and informal export, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).
Ninety per cent, however, is shipped to Vietnam and Thailand, where it is processed and then exported to China.
Norng Ratana, a program analyst at UNDP, said that Cambodian cassava processors and collectors are encountering difficulties in exporting cassava chips to China because of the inability to meet sanitary standards, as well as insufficient quality, and unable to meet other market requirements.
“[The technical assistant] will seek to help producers and exporters to better assess and understand Chinese market requirements,” said Ratana. “It will contribute to make direct export of cassava possible from Cambodia to China.”
Setsuko Yamazaki, country director of UNDP to Cambodia, said that Cambodia is now the seventh-largest producer of cassava in Asia, and projected that country would become the fifth largest producer following Thailand, Indonesia, India and China, by 2018.
“It is expected that by 2018, Cambodian cassava will export directly to such countries as China and South Korea, and will lessen its dependency on the export of unprocessed tubers to Thailand and Vietnam,” she said.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia’s exports of cassava reached 245,000 tonnes in the first quarter of this year, a 47 per cent decline quarter-on-quarter from 465,000 tonnes last year,