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Hot weather shakes up local salt sector

An employee gathers salt crystals at a salt farm in Kep province in 2014.
An employee gathers salt crystals at a salt farm in Kep province in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Hot weather shakes up local salt sector

Unusually high yields of salt production in Kep and Kampot province have surpassed the market’s low demand, filling the nation’s salt storage facilities to capacity, the head of a local industry body said yesterday.

The Kep-Kampot Salt Producers Community collected 300,000 tonnes of salt since the start of the current dry season, far beyond the usual yield, according to its co-director, Bun Baraing.

“This year there was no rain and it is hot, so we collected three times the amount of salt compared to the previous year,” he said. “Salt is everywhere now. We don’t have enough storage space, so we keep it outside and if you come to Kampot you will see salt everywhere, white like cotton.”

He said that the community, which harvests salt on over 4,000 hectares in two coastal provinces, only supplies its salt to the local market, where demand barely reaches 100,000 tonnes per year.

As a result of oversupply, the price of local salt has fallen to a low $50 per tonne, compared to $70 per tonne a year ago.

“We cannot solve the problem because as of now there is no place to export to and we don’t know what to do with our salt stock,” Baraing said.

However, to stop collecting salt was not an option because it would damage the salt fields and render them unproductive in future seasons.

“We will continue salt farming in the hope that there will be a solution, but it is most likely hopeless,” Baraing said.

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