The Phnom Penh-based HN Outsources Trading and Technology Co Ltd has been named as the sole company authorised to export corn to China, exclusively in dried kernel form, indicating that the final procedures allowing for the direct shipment of the commodity to Asia’s biggest market have been completed.

The Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh on August 27 affirmed that Customs had given the all-clear for the Cambodian firm to ship corn kernels to China, the second agricultural product to receive the green light from Beijing this year, after longan – an edible fruit of the soapberry family, which also includes lychees and rambutan.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on August 30 that negotiations on the export of corn to China were completed in 2014, but that due to profitability concerns, HN Outsources Trading and Technology was only the first to go through the registration process and become a formal exporter.

“Private companies may still be hesitant while shipping costs are elevated and due to the many other expenses involved. Hence, it [registration] depends on the firms’ abilities,” he added.

The industry annually produces roughly one million tonnes of corn, and in general does not face considerable challenges, the minister said, noting that Cambodia also exports the grains to a number of other markets including Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh, while a sizeable portion goes to domestic animal feed production.

The agriculture ministry reported that in the first seven months of 2022, the Kingdom exported more than 130,000 tonnes of dried corn kernels, down 8.5 per cent year-on-year, to Vietnam (over 85,000 tonnes), Thailand (over 47,000 tonnes), Taiwan (over 846 tonnes) and South Korea (over 12 tonnes).

The Post could not reach HN Outsources Trading and Technology for comment on August 30.

Chheung Ye, the owner of an agricultural silo based in Phnom Spong village, Sala Krao commune, Sala Krao district, Pailin province, said that direct corn exports to China would open more doors for local growers.

Bought directly from local farmers, the corn stored in his silo is largely sold to Thai animal feed producer CP’s Cambodian unit with smaller amounts exported to Thailand, he said, adding that feed makers only buy high-quality dried grains, whereas the corn exported to the neighbouring country can be of a “slightly lower” calibre.

“There hasn’t been much in the way of corn market or price issues in recent years, although this year’s rates are not as high as last year while costs for fertilisers, pesticides and fuel are much higher,” Ye said.

“The more markets, the better – we’ll have more choices and our products can sell for more.”