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Kingdom set to grow local silk operations

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A young ethnic Bunong girl learns how to weave silk in Pech Chreada district’s Bou Sra commune in Mondulkiri province. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom set to grow local silk operations

Cambodia is considering the opportunity to invest in China’s silk sector. Although China is a major supplier of silk, its production is on the decline, said Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) Board of Directors chairman Mey Kalyan.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the Khmer Silk Centre at RUPP on Wednesday, Kalyan said even though Cambodia has a long history of producing and using silk products, the Kingdom’s sector does not seem to grow.

“China is known as the silk supplier accounting for almost 80 per cent of global production. Production in China is [currently] gradually decreasing, and because silk raising and production can be done in Cambodia, this is an opportunity,” he said.

The National Silk Strategy Report 2016-2020 said the Kingdom can produce only about one per cent of the total local demand for silk, and more than $30 million is spent on importing 400 tonnes of it per year.

Kalyan explained that to harvest 400 tonnes of silk, 40,000ha of mulberry trees would have to be grown.

There is currently only about 100ha of mulberry trees planted in the Kingdom. “We expect that the cultivated area for mulberry trees by the end of 2019 will reach 200ha and will increase gradually,” he said.

Kalyan said investment in silk fibres will not face taxes or marketing challenges like the rice sector.

RUPP Silk Team representative Srey Chansorphea expressed her hopes that with the establishment of the silk research centre, many farmers will invest in cultivating and producing silk fibre-made products.

“I hope that local silk fibre-made products will flourish and create a good market,” she said.

Chansorphea said 6A Grade silk is currently worth between $70-$80 per kilogramme, while lower grades can be worth between $30-$40.

Chen Sopheap, the founder and managing director of Keiy Tambanh Khmer, a manufacturer of traditional Cambodian silk-based products, previously told The Post that while such products had been nearly forgotten, demand for them is currently on the rise again.

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