The General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries began informing fragrant coconut farmers, communities and processing factories that China is prepared to import their produce.

The GDA urged cultivators on September 20 to register their farms with the body, aiming to forward a list of official suppliers and processing facilities to China by December. This initiative followed an announcement from the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, indicating their intention to welcome fresh coconut exports from the Kingdom.

Upon receiving applications, the GDA will evaluate the sites based on specific protocols. After registration, the roster will be sent to China for further evaluation before exports begin.

The GDA emphasised the importance of adhering to the phytosanitary requirements agreed upon between agriculture minister Dith Tina and his Chinese counterpart on September 15.

Ministry spokesperson Im Rachna said it is vital for the authorities to ensure growers comply with these protocols.

“The GDA will have experts perform technical evaluations before sending our list of suppliers to China,” she said.

Agriculture mogul Mong Reththy, president of his namesake conglomerate, expressed his enthusiasm.

“I had always hoped China would allow [us] to export this variety. Now it’s a reality,” he said, adding that he is planning to increase the land allocated for fragrant coconut cultivation.

Buth Kim Chhay, owner of a 47ha plantation in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district, also welcomed the announcement.

“With the ability to export, we won’t face market issues anymore. Currently, I’m focusing more on producing saplings than selling fresh fruit from the tree due to the rising cultivation trend,” he said.

As reported by the ministry, the Kingdom had 17,000ha of coconut farms in 2022, with 14,000ha being productive. A total of 248,000 tonnes of the fruit were harvested last year.