Construction began yesterday on a $10 million factory in Kampong Speu province to process fresh fruit for international export, a first for Cambodia, though Agriculture Ministry officials could not confirm it would meet international standards yesterday.
South Korea’s Hyundai Corporation Group broke ground on the 3-hectare factory in Phnom Srouch district yesterday, in the hopes that it would enable Cambodian fruits to be shipped abroad without first being sent to Vietnam or Thailand, as is currently common practice.
The factory is set to open in September and will process 1,700 tonnes of fruit in its first year of operation, according to Hyundai representative Lee Changhoon.
“First of all, we will start from mangoes,” Changhoon said, adding that the company hoped to eventually process 50,000 tonnes of fruit annually, including coconut, durian, and mangosteen.
“Our market is not only Korea. Hyundai has 44 branches in worldwide, that is the strong network for export our high quality food of Cambodia,” he wrote in an email yesterday.
Hyundai Corporation inked a deal with local mango producer Mao Legacy Co Ltd in November 2016, and the two companies combined have about 2,400 hectares of mango farms in Kampong Speu, but there has never been a sanitary and phytosanitary processing plant to enable international exports.
“It is not easy work, however we are getting support from Korean government and Cambodia government, [and] we are sure that we can comply to Sanitary and Phytosanitary [standards]” Changhoon said.
Hean Vahan, director general of the general directorate of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, was less sure yesterday. He attended the factory’s groundbreaking ceremony, but said that he could not comment on the SPS certifications because the company had not sent the ministry its master plan.
“I was just invited to join for the opening of construction, but I haven’t seen any details of the construction or its capacity,” he said yesterday. “I have no idea whether it will comply with the SPS procedure or not.”
In Chayvan, president of the Kampong Speu Mango Association, was optimistic that the plant would be a boon for the province’s fruit farmers.
“We have been waiting for this for years,” he said yesterday. “Our mangoes will have more value when we can reach the market directly.”