Cambodia exported 169,658 tonnes of fresh and dried mangoes in the first 11 months of 2022, down 30.28 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Of this, fresh and dried mangoes respectively accounted for 152,994.68 tonnes and 16,663.5 tonnes, down 32.5 per cent and 0.68 per cent from the 226,577.71 tonnes and 16,777.82 tonnes recorded in the same time of 2021.

Buyers of fresh Cambodian mangoes for the period included Vietnam, Thailand, mainland China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Austria, the ministry reported, listing import markets for the dried fruit as: mainland China, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Russia, Italy, the UK, South Korea, the US and Australia.

Although the export figures were not broken down by market, Hun Lak, CEO of Rich Farm Asia Co Ltd, a local agricultural investor that grows mangoes of the Keo Romiet variety in Kampong Speu province, sees the Covid-19 restrictions implemented by Beijing as the “biggest reason” for the sharp year-on-year plunge in overall exports of the fruit in fresh form.

Speaking to The Post, he explained that a considerable portion of fresh Cambodian mangoes that enter China are shipped overland through Vietnam, adding that heaps of merchandise ended up stuck on the Sino-Vietnamese border after Beijing tightened rules on imported goods as a result of the pandemic.

Lak also attributes the total drop in mango exports to heavy rains across the Kingdom that he says slashed production of the tropical fruit last year.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng commented that China is a major buyer of certain Cambodian agricultural products, such as mangoes and bananas, adding that any import restrictions imposed by Beijing will “inevitably” lead to a drop in exports.

But conversely, he said, improvements in Chinese market conditions may drive up the Kingdom’s export figures even higher, given China’s size, proximity and hence convenience for transportation.

“[Nonetheless,] bilateral and multilateral trade agreements will broaden Cambodia’s agricultural markets going forward,” Heng claimed.

Marked rebounds in the export of fresh mangoes and other produce to China are expected this year, on the back of Beijing’s relaxation of Covid restrictions – most recently, its January 8 move to reopen to inbound and outbound tourism.

To recap, in April 2021, Beijing gave the official green light authorising the direct export of fresh Cambodian mangoes to China, with the requirement that batches undergo Vapour Heat Treatment (VHT) or Hot Water Treatment (HWT) to ensure that all of the fruits are sterile.

In full-year 2021, Cambodia exported 242,483.76 tonnes of fresh mangoes, up 148.38 per cent over 2020, with Vietnam accounting for the most at 199,077.38 tonnes, followed by Thailand (38,419.28 tonnes), mainland China (4,771 tonnes), South Korea (149.11 tonnes), Hong Kong (50.78 tonnes), Singapore (16.20 tonnes) and Kuwait (0.01 tonnes).

Exports of dried mangoes amounted to 17,879.82 tonnes, up 179.30 per cent on-year, with mainland China buying the lion’s share at 14,246.20 tonnes, followed by Thailand (1,501.13 tonnes), the Philippines (975.08 tonnes), Vietnam (559.30 tonnes), Japan (523.70 tonnes), Russia (23 tonnes), the UK (21.14 tonnes), South Korea (18.70 tonnes), the US (8.56 tonnes), Taiwan (three tonnes) and Kazakhstan (0.05 tonnes).