Cambodia exported more than 2.3 million tonnes of cassava in the first half (H1) of 2022, up more than two-fifths year-on-year, of which Thailand bought the largest share at over 1.3 million tonnes or 59.49 per cent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The report, compiled by the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture based on figures from the National Phytosanitary Database, breaks down the exports by four categories: cassava chips, fresh cassava, tapioca starch, and cassava pulp.

From January-June, the Kingdom exported a total of 2,300,919.39 tonnes of cassava, up by 42.55 per cent over the 1,614,129.76 tonnes recorded last year, the report said.

Cassava chips accounted for 1,534,590 tonnes, up by 24.25 per cent year-on-year, of which 1,133,550 tonnes were shipped to Thailand and 401,040 tonnes to Vietnam. Fresh cassava totalled 710,300 tonnes, up by 97.97 per cent, and went to Vietnam (475,100 tonnes) and Thailand (235,200 tonnes).

Tapioca starch clocked in at 48,948 tonnes, up by 207.78 per cent year-on-year, and went to China (47,405 tonnes), the US (666 tonnes), Italy (378 tonnes), Vietnam (210 tonnes), the Netherlands (152 tonnes), Thailand (98.60 tonnes) and Malaysia (38.40 tonnes). Cassava pulp made up 7,081.39 tonnes, up by 63.81 per cent, and went to China (6,581.39 tonnes) and Vietnam (500 tonnes).

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon told The Post that total agricultural exports in the first half of 2022 rose by 13.05 per cent year-on-year, of which non-milled rice crops registered a 12.81 per cent increase. However, he noted, there were some “slight declines” across the statistics for fresh agricultural products, especially in terms of exports to China.

Speaking to The Post on July 10, Kim Hout, the director of the Department of Commerce of Battambang province, Cambodia’s largest exporter of cassava to Thailand, underscored that the shrub – native to South America and cultivated for its edible starchy tuberous roots – is a very remunerative crop for the local agricultural sector, especially for growers in districts bordering Thailand, with high domestic and international demand.

He pointed out that the apparent enormous range of benefits of the crop had prompted the government, through the Ministry of Commerce, to develop a National Policy on Cassava.

As a result, the government formally launched the “National Policy on Cassava 2020-2025” on January 14, 2021, in a bid to transform Cambodia into a larger, more sustainable and reliable producer, processor and supplier – for both regional and global markets – of more commercially valuable products derived from the key agro-industrial crop.

“Cassava contributes a lot to job creation and income for farmers … [as well as] the national economy,” Hout said, sharing that Battambang is a major hub for traders to buy cassava and other crops brought in from across the country for export to Thailand.

According to commerce minister Pan Sorasak, cassava contributes three-to-four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) each year.