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EU market could tap into tapioca

A farmer rakes together dried cassava in preparation for processing in Pursat province earlier this year.
A farmer rakes together dried cassava in preparation for processing in Pursat province earlier this year. Hong Menea

EU market could tap into tapioca

Local agro-industrial conglomerate Mong Reththy Group is negotiating a new partnership that would send large-volume shipments of Cambodian cassava products to Europe for the first time.

Mong Reththy, the group’s eponymous owner, said yesterday he met investors from Italy and Ivory Coast this week to discuss the possibility of producing tapioca – a starch extracted from certain varieties of cassava plants – for export to Italy, Spain and France. While a deal was not inked, he said one is expected soon, as the investors have expressed a sense of urgency.

“They really want to invest in it, but we want to research for sources of supply to meet their demand because our farmers mostly grow cassava, but not [the variety preferred for producing] tapioca,” he said, following a meeting with a potential Italian investor yesterday.

“Their demand is big. They need 10 containers a month or more,” he added.

Reththy explained that Cambodian tapioca farmers usually grow the crop on small farms near their homes to provide food for their families, so it will take time to produce enough tapioca for mass export and to study the preferred variety’s seeds.

“It is not difficult, but we must know where to collect it from,” he said. “Then we will collect it from farmers, process it and send it to the Italian market.”

Cambodia exported 27,000 tonnes of tapioca starch to China, 153 tonnes to South Korea, 102 tonnes to the United States, and a negligible amount to European markets last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

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