Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Local cotton farming abandoned

Local cotton farming abandoned

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Battambang province farmer shows off his cotton crop in 2009. Heng Chivoan

Local cotton farming abandoned

Despite huge amounts of potential and a well-rooted past, the Kingdom’s cotton cultivation industry seems to be hanging by a thread.

Though the country relies heavily on cotton fabric in its massive garment sector, insiders say Cambodian farmers have mostly abandoned the crop.

Sok Vanna, the deputy director of the industrial crop department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said cotton has not been on the ministry’s radar for many years. He claimed farmers have moved to cassava, corn, beans or cashew nuts.

“In the past few decades, even though farmers are still growing cotton, we do not have any data on the crop,” he said.

According to Vanna, cotton was cultivated in Battambang , Preah Vihear , and Kampong Cham provinces in the past. He said sometime in the last 10 years, there was even a processing factory in Kampong Cham.

The director of that province’s agriculture department, Kim Savoeurn, however, said farmers in the area had ditched the crop years ago.

“Farmers stopped growing cotton in favour of cassava, beans, and cashew nuts as those had greater market demand,” he said.

‘No data’

The deputy director of the Battambang provincial agriculture department, In Sovanmony, said that cotton cultivation is no longer practised in his province either.

“We do not have any data as to how many smallholders are still farming [cotton]. It has gone as there is no market to sell it now. Before there used to be a cotton factory, Seladamex, but it changed operations,” he said.

Seladamex Co Ltd entered the cotton industry in 2009 and claimed to cultivate 1,200ha, in addition to investing $2 million in a processing plant.

The cotton industry began to decline during the Khmer Rouge era when nearly all agricultural resources were made to focus on rice production.

Between 1965 and 1975, the industry – established by the French – thrived, and thousands of acres of the crop were harvested each year.

Although cotton growing continued under the Pol Pot regime, a lack of market for the cotton, and years of insect infestation led Cambodian farmers to all but give up on it by 1985.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • EDC tackles power shortfall

    Electrcite Du Cambodge (EDC) on Monday issued a statement updating the public on its efforts to tackle insufficient electricity supplies during the ongoing dry season. Reductions in electricity prices have resulted in a steady increase in consumers in the Kingdom, while local and international investors

  • African swine fever spreads to VN-Cambodia border

    African swine fever has spread to parts of Vietnam that border Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri and Kratie provinces, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official said on Friday. Tan Phannara, the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general, told a Phnom Penh workshop that