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Growing taste for cassava as exports rise by 74pc

Growing taste for cassava as exports rise by 74pc

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A worker stands on a truck amid piles of cassava in Suong, Kampong Cham province earlier this year. Cassava exports have increased by 74 per cent in the first five months of this year, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics . Photo by: Hector Bermejo

THE Kingdom’s cass-ava exports soared 74 per cent in the first five months of 2011, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol division.

Exports between January and May climbed past 212,000 tonnes from the 121,500 tonnes shipped during the corresponding period of 2010, Camcontrol said.

At the same time, revenue from cassava exports reached US$10.3 million, up from  $4.4 million in the first five months of 2010.

“The growth will help boost Cambodia’s economic potential,” Kong Putheara, director for the Department of Statistics at the Comm-erce Ministry, said.

Increased demand in  international markets, chiefly Thailand and Vietnam, had accounted for the growth, he said.

Cassava shipments by ACOBIS, a big exporter of agricultural products to Thailand, jumped to 27,000 tonnes over the first five months of this year from 7,000 tonnes in 2010, according to director Ruos Manmuy.

She credited Thailand’s appetite for the crop as the reason for the increase.

Ruos Manmuy also noted that the price of dry cassava – it is sold as fresh, dry or in powder form – were now between $185 and $236 a tonne.

Last year, dry cassava fetched between $118 and $143 a tonne, she said.

At the same time, the area of land used to farm cassava is on the rise.

Khan Samban, director of the Agro-Industry Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that at present, the crop was being grown on 190,000 hectares, which yielded 3.9 million tonnes in 2010-11.

"That’s an increase of 30,000 hectares and 400,000 tonnes over the 2009-2010 growing season," he said.

“Cassava is easer to grow than other crops, and the price and markets are available. That pushes farmers to increase their cultivation."

Khan Samban said cassava cultivation would grow even more by year’s end because farmers tended to plant more early in the rainy season.

“We believe the cassava price will not go down, as it’s in demand for both eating and producing ethanol."

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