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Germany-led meet seeks to get produce to China

A mango farm manager inspects fruit at a grove in Preah Sihanouk province in 2014.
A mango farm manager inspects fruit at a grove in Preah Sihanouk province in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Germany-led meet seeks to get produce to China

Germany’s international development agency (GIZ) held a workshop on Tuesday that promoted Cambodian agricultural exports to China, focusing on the necessary export guidelines and the sanitation standards that are often lacking in the Kingdom’s agricultural value chains.

“We have compiled export guidelines for certain products that have potential to benefit from trade with China, such as mangoes, bananas, and longan,” said Florian Miss, program manager of economic cooperation for GIZ’s sub-regional initiatives in Asia.

One of the main obstacles for exports to China are certificates guaranteeing the products meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), which according to Miss can be difficult for many Cambodian farmers to obtain.

Hean Vanhan, director general at the Agriculture Ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture, said China is strict about requiring SPS certificates for all imports, and many local farmers have yet to adopt standards necessary to acquire this certification.

“Our smallholder farmers have to grow their crops based on the requirements of [export] markets,” he said, but added that many farmers were not yet in compliance with the requirements.

One way to streamline that process would be to form cooperatives, Vanhan said, in order to ensure individual farmers weren’t taking on the burden of exporting goods alone.

One such group is the Kampong Speu Mango Association, which has been trying to clarify the rules surrounding SPS and get its members certified for several months.

In Chayvan, the association’s president, said he was hopeful about the actions being taken by both the GIZ and the Agriculture Ministry.

“We are getting closer and closer to the Chinese market,” he said.

Din Den, a longan farmer in Battambang province, also said he hoped to gain access to China’s market. Den typically exports his fruit directly to Thailand, but has to pay fees that eat into his profits.

He exports approximately 10 tonnes of longan to Thailand per day, he said, and is required to pay over 30 baht – or about $1 – per kilogram of his product just to get it past the border.

“I want to deliver to China directly, because I think this would increase my profits,” he said.

“I want to know how to reach the market, what the costs of transportation would be and how to comply with export laws.”

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