Cambodia expects exports of longan (Dimocarpus longan) from Pailin province to the international market, especially direct exports to China, to pick up once the once the Covid-19 outbreak tapers, provincial governor Thou Phea told The Post on Monday.
Longan is a tropical evergreen tree species native to Asia that produces edible fruit.
Phea said the initiative is driven by the upcoming opening of a processing-factory run by Chinese investors in the province that has finished construction.
The company has delayed opening the plant until the Covid-19 situation eases, he said. It will have the capacity to dry 2.4 tonnes of longan per hour and will be a huge driver of Pailin’s longan market.
“Due to a lack of a drying plant, more than 5,500-6,000 tonnes of Pailin longan per year have been exported to Thailand.
“We hope that when the factory commences operation, our exports can be brought directly to the international market, particularly the Chinese market, at a time when prices are higher than at present,” Phea said.
The plant will improve cultivation and quality in the province, he said. “With the growth in farmer cultivation, I hope that additional investment in drying plants will improve the quality and export of Cambodian longan.”
Pailin longan is currently priced at around 5,000 riel ($1.25) per kg, down from last year, said Phea.
Pailin provincial Department of Agriculture director Say Sophat said an expanded cultivation area had led to a slight increase in longan yields this year compared to last year, despite unfavourable weather.
Once the drying plant goes online, the crop’s heightened cultivation will provide a widened selection of quality fruits and seeds.
“The Pailin longan market will gain an edge once the domestic drying plant opens its doors,” he said. “Without the plant, we’d have to rely on Thailand.”
Pailin longan yields between 10 and 15 tonnes per hectare depending on the weather and the age of the longan trees, said Sophat.
A report from the provincial administration said there are currently four major crops in the province with a high potential for growth and export, including Pailin longan, turmeric mango, cassava and red corn. Currently, Pailin longan cultivation covers an area of 4,383ha.
Only four Cambodian agricultural products are officially allowed to be exported to China as of now, including corn, cassava, milled rice and yellow bananas. Cambodia is currently negotiating the export of other products such as edible bird’s nest, mangoes, pepper, dragon fruits and fragrant coconuts.
General Department of Agriculture director-general Ngin Chhay told The Post earlier this month that plans to export these agricultural products to China may not materialise this year due to complications with export procedures and requirements.