Cambodian rubber exports surged 21 percent during the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Sunday.
Local producers exported 84,419 tonnes of rubber during the first six months of this year, an increase of 14,376 tonnes compared to a year earlier, said Pol Sopha, director-general of the Rubber Department at the Ministry of Agriculture. Total rubber cultivation was also up, at 436,299 hectares.
Sopha said the price of rubber lowered during the first six months of the year, with the median export price on natural rubber falling 18.98 percent year-on-year to $1,434 per tonnes, he said.
While saying that rising cultivation and exports were good signs, he stressed that price fluctuations were mostly due to the international market, especially fears surrounding the mounting trade war between the US and China.
“Our challenge with rubber is over the fluctuating price. But our exports keep increasing and it will reach 220,000 tonnes by the end of year,” he said.
“Rubber plantations still have good potential for promoting economic growth.”
Association for Rubber Development in Cambodia secretary general Men Sopheak said rubber exports continue to grow as trees planted years ago are maturing and contributing to increased supply, while international demand is also on the rise.
Though the price of rubber has surpassed the break-even point for family farms, it’s still not high enough to generate profits for producers due to large-scale investment, Sopheak said.
“The current price of rubber is satisfactory for farmers, but it is still not profitable for investors who pumped in millions of dollars and had to sell in order to pay for labour costs."
“We need international investors to produce the finished products in order to survive in the rubber industry,” he said.