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Fears of instability leading Thais to hoard Cambodian farm products

Fears of instability leading Thais to hoard Cambodian farm products

Despite surging Thai demand for agricultural goods, Cambodian farmers are still struggling with low prices for produce like corn

THAI businesses are clamoring to buy up Cambodia's agricultural stocks as civil unrest in Bangkok threatens to disrupt their ability to import in the future, business people on the border say.   

Ham Paihuot, who has a joint venture with a Thai partner, said demand for corn, cassava, sesame and beans has surged.

"The amount of goods being transported is huge and it's been going on every day. They want all the goods to get into Thailand as soon as possible because they worry about the future."

But with political tensions between Thailand and Cambodia running high, many importers on the Thai side fear that Cambodian goods shipments could be disrupted by protesters.

Ham Paihuot said trucks carrying the crops pass through checkpoints along the border in Pailin, Battambang, and Banteay Meanchey, and are vulnerable to being intercepted by protesters seeking to halt commercial activity.

If the border checkpoints are closed by protestors, factories in Thailand will not be able to operate and will lose a lot of money, he said.  

Low prices

Despite higher demand in Thailand, the price of corn remains lower than it was earlier this year.

Three months ago, corn sold at 6.3 baht (US$0.17) per kilogram, and now it sells for 4.3 baht a kilogram, he said.

Cheam Chan Saphon, director of the Agriculture Department in Battambang province, said the price of corn and other crops was down because of the dispute over border territory with Thailand.

He said Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun has ordered all provincial Agricultural Departments to inventory local crop production in order to facilitate purchases from foreign buyers.

Global corn prices have fallen sharply due to lower biofuel demand.

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