Cambodia exported 84,898.90 tonnes of corn kernels in the first half of 2022, down by 39.65 per cent year-on-year, according to the agriculture ministry, amid transport restrictions and as more growers turn to more lucrative crops.

Vietnam was by far the largest market for the kernels during the period, at 76,540 tonnes or about 90 per cent, followed by Thailand (7,500 tonnes), Taiwan (846.60 tonnes) and South Korea (12.30 tonnes), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a new report.

The report noted that, by tonnage, corn kernels accounted for 1.686 per cent of all agricultural exports for the January-June period, which were 5,035,425.25 tonnes, marking an increase of 581,374.40 tonnes or 13.05 per cent from the 4,454,050 tonnes recorded in the same time last year. The first half’s agricultural exports went to 65 countries and territories.

In Cambodia, corn is typically harvested twice a year: once between late June and August, and again from late October to February of the following year.

Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture director Chhim Vachira told The Post on July 12 that the province is currently exporting about 2,000 tonnes a day, during the first corn harvest season, but noted that many growers have been turning away from the crop.

“Because cassava seems to be more marketable than corn, some farmers have resorted to growing cassava instead, which has slightly reduced the area under corn cultivation. Corn has a strong market this year [and is selling] for around 700 riel [$0.17] per kilogramme,” he said, noting that the rate was “better” year-on-year.

Vachira noted that a substantial share of corn kernel exports to Thailand are sold by local silo owners or Thai traders who buy the grain at border areas.

Heng Sithy, an official at the same department, said that the corn harvest was about 20 per cent completed, on the more than 54,000ha to be harvested this season with an average yield of four to five tonnes per hectare.

He said strict enforcement of a legal weight limit for lorries in Thailand have hindered corn exports to the neighbouring country, suggesting that on average, vehicles could viably transport 40-50 per cent more cargo than allowed. This, he claimed, “could bring down corn prices and affect farmers’ markets”.

Speaking to The Post, Tim Lang, a corn farmer in Battambang’s northwesternmost Sampov Loun district, said he had recently sold more than 40 tonnes of corn for over 600,000 riel per tonne, which had been harvested on 10ha.

“The price of corn this year is better than last year, with more than 600,000 riel per tonne being able to offset the costs of fertilisers and fuel, which are all more expensive.

“But, I’ve heard that other farmers recently could only sell for just 500,000 riel, since exporting seems a bit tough now,” he said.

Lang shared that farmers start planting the second corn crop of the year in the July-August period, which he said takes more than three months to harvest.

According to the ministry, Cambodia exported 201,589.34 tonnes of corn kernels last year – up by 3.58 per cent year-on-year – to the Vietnamese, Thai, Taiwanese, Bangladeshi and South Korean markets.