Cambodian Keo Romiet mangoes remain on target to be directly exported to the Chinese market from early next year after the economic powerhouse penned an agreement in June that set up a 500,000 tonne quota for the Kingdom’s widely-available fruit.

Hun Lak, the CEO of Richfarm Asia Co Ltd, said the June 9 protocol on “phytosanitary requirements for export Fresh Keo Romiet mangoes from Cambodia to the People’s Republic of China” paves the way for the private sector’s direct shipments of the fruit to East Asia’s largest economy.

Boasting tens of thousands of Keo Romiet mango trees, he said his company plans to export fresh fruit to China in February.

“I think by the beginning of 2021 we will be able to export Keo Romiet mangoes to the Chinese market, and while we are currently packing those in very early stages of development, we’ll be able to harvest the mangoes in 50 days.

“We’ve already exported dried mangoes to the international market and we’ll start exporting fresh mangoes in February next year,” Lak said.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on December 22 that four companies will be ready to export fresh Keo Romiet mangoes directly to China even earlier next year.

The companies are building hot water treatment (HWT) and vapour heat treatment (VHT) facilities to sterilise their crops and exterminate pests, which will be ready by the end of the month, he said.

According to the minister, each company has promised to start exporting between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of fresh mangoes once the facilities are on-line.

“I think even if we install infrastructure and phytosanitary treatment facilities for mangoes in a not-very-timely manner due to Covid-19, we could still export fresh mangoes to China through Vietnam, but we want to do so directly,” he said.

Um Savoeun, president of the Kirirom Keo Romiet Mango Agricultural Community, whose members grow more than 2,000ha in Kampong Speu province, said the mango cultivar is in bloom after harvest season closed last month.

His association will have the capacity to supply between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes per season, he said, holding onto hopes that mango yields will be high next season.

“We hope that Keo Romiet mangoes will be reasonably priced after China opens its market to Cambodia,” Savoeun said.

But the minister is concerned that Cambodia’s high production costs will make it difficult for exporters to compete in the Chinese market.

Mango washing in the Kingdom comes to an average of between $0.80 and $1 per kg, while fresh mangoes go for over $2 per kg in China and $3-4 in South Korea, he said.

“Right now, there is no export stage [in the cycle], but the companies are competing by price, in the purchase of mangoes to send to factories for washing and in the cost of shipping to China.

“Some companies are planning to ship mangoes to China using their own vessels, they are contending with each other.

“In the future, some companies may face problems, so we’ve set up an agro-industrial congress to discuss the issue and make agricultural product processing run successfully,” Sakhon said.

Cambodia has 124,319ha of mango plantations, of which 91,398ha are harvested with an average yield of 15.85 tonnes per hectare per season, the directorate’s figures show.

The Kingdom exported more than $44.57 million worth of mango products last year, including fresh and dried mango, mango syrup and pickled mango.