Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expectations high for cassava

Expectations high for cassava

A farmer throws harvested cassava root onto a pile in  Battambang province in 2011
A farmer throws harvested cassava root onto a pile in Battambang province in 2011. Heng Chivoan

Expectations high for cassava

Provincial authorities are hoping for a bumper crop for cassava this harvest season, with both cultivation and prices up this year.

In Cambodia’s northwestern provinces, where cassava is most commonly grown, officials are betting on increased demand for the root vegetable from China this harvest season, which runs from December to April. Flood damage too in some areas has been less severe this year, giving officials hope for the harvest.

In Cambodia’s largest cassava producing province of Battambang, officials said cultivation had doubled since last year.

“Cassava cultivation for this new season has increased from 60,000 to 120,000 hectares as farmers have switched from planting corn to cassava, due to low price of corn last year,” said Chhim Vichera, director of Agriculture Department of Battambang province.

Despite the increase of supply, Vichera said he was confident prices would remain stable as there is more interest from the Chinese market.

“We also see more local traders for cassava, and we have become less dependent on neighbouring countries for our product because we have China as a buyer,” said Vichera.

The average yield for cassava is about 25 to 30 tonnes per hectare.

Chhil Chhen, deputy director of Pailin’s provincial Department of Agriculture said cassava cultivation made up 80 per cent of the total 37,000 hectares of cultivation area for agricultural products in Pailin.

“It is a good year for cassava farmers as there is no flooding, so no damage to their harvest,” he said. “The price for the beginning of the harvest is a little higher than last year too. I am optimistic that the price will remain positive as demand from local processing factory has increased,” Chhen added.

According to Chhen, fresh cassava sells for about 290 riel ($0.07) per kilogram while dried cassava is sold for around 670 riel.

Meanwhile, Ouch Savorn, deputy director of Bantey Meanchey’s provincial Department of Agriculture, also noted a presence of more local traders in the province. This increase in competition, he said, would hopefully sustain prices as cultivation had increased by more than 60,000 hectares.

“The government has also encouraged farmers to diversify their plantation,” Savorn added, in order to spread the risk of price fluctuations in one specific product.

Meas Leun, a farmer in Pailin province, said prices for dry cassava were up by about 30 per cent this year.

“As far as I know, there has been higher demand from Vietnam and Thailand as cassava production in their countries has decreased due to flooding. Local traders also increased this year creating price competition in the market,” he said.

However, independent economist Srey Chanthy, cautioned yesterday that while cassava prices were strong at the beginning of the season, he expected them to drop when they reached their peak supply in January and February.

Although China had promised to buy more of the Cambodian produce, trade volume was not endless, Chanthy went on to say.

“Farmers should manage to release their harvest according to the demand, to have better control over price,” he said.


  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,