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Early rains hit salt production

Early rains hit salt production

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A man walks through a salt field in Kep province. This year's salt production season has been shortened by early rains.

Domestic salt production halted earlier than normal this year due to the early rainy season, causing lower than expected yields, according to Ly Seng, President of the Cambodian Salt Producers Association.

The association’s members have produced 70,000 tonnes for 2010 to 2011 season, a decline on its forecast of 80,000 tonnes set in January, he said.

Salt production normally mirrors the dry season in Cambodia, by beginning in November and ending in May, Ly Seng said.

He added production had been hit by an early start to the rainy season this year – causing most production to finish by April.

The association’s members produce salt on 4,500 hectares largely in Kampot and Kep provinces.

Cambodia’s domestic salt demand generally sits at between 80,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes a year, he said,

However, excess production last year meant there was plenty of leftover stock.

“We produced 170,000 tonnes of salt [last year], of which 70,000 tonnes are left,” he said.

Production varies year to year – declining to 30,000 tonnes in 2009, which led Cambodia to import from China to make up for the shortfall, officials said at the time.

Kampot Province Department of Industry Director Som Vichet pointed to heavy rains during April as forcing many salt production sites to halt.

Yet he claimed the Kingdom ought to be able to dip into its stockpiles to meet domestic demand in 2011.

“We will not lack salt this year,” he said.

Kampot province salt producer Man Hay claimed he had halted production in early April due to the heavy rains.

“I am afraid, as my output this year dropped,” he said. “I am waiting for the price, to see how high it is – it may be the case that I talk a loss.”

He pointed to the 1,400 tonnes of salt his 30 hectares produced last year, which fell to 700 tonnes this year.

Granulated salt traded at between 1200 and 1400 riel per kilogramme on Phnom Penh’s markets yesterday, with prices largely unchanged from a year ago, according to daily Ministry of Commerce statistics.

Late last year, government officials cracked down on the sale of non-iodised salt, claiming iodised salt helped prevent disease.

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