Cambodia shipped more than 170,000 tonnes of fresh mangoes and mango products abroad in the first five months of this year, marking a significant increase of over 241 per cent, with 2021 expected to witness gains that reflect newly-granted market access to the Chinese market.
Exports of fresh mango, dehydrated products, and syrup weighed in at 156,724.52 tonnes, 11,048.94 tonnes and 2,869.73 tonnes, respectively, representing year-on-year increases of 255.39 per cent, 198.42 per cent and 30.95 per cent, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.
Main buyers of Cambodian mangoes included mainland China and Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Kuwait, the US, UK and India.
Boeung Ket Planting and Industrial Co Ltd general manager Heng Sreng told The Post that exports would continue to increase as mango rapidly gains increasing access to foreign markets, especially China’s where demand is high.
“Even though our market is good, the price of fresh mangoes on the market does not seem to be good because China is also very rich in mangoes, and mango prices fluctuate very quickly and erratically,” he said.
Sreng said his company shipped a container of fresh mangoes to China on May 7 as part of the Kingdom’s inaugural direct export of the fruit to the Asian economic giant. But with harvest season at a close, the company will have to wait until next year to send a second batch, he lamented.
May 7’s shipment came after the Chinese Customs Administration on April 26 officially approved a list of 37 mango plantations and five packaging plants to export fresh mangoes to China. According to the protocol on phytosanitary requirements for fresh mango exports to China, signed by the ministry on June 9, the fruits must be of the Keo Romiet variety, the most ubiquitous type found throughout the Kingdom.
Hun Lak, CEO of Rich Farm Asia Co Ltd, a local agricultural investor that grows Keo Romiet mangoes in Kampong Speu province, recently told The Post that direct exports to China would increase the market potential of the fruit, further cementing it as an important agro-industrial crop.
With a rapidly-expanding national cultivation area now at around 100,000ha that yield over one million tonnes per season, he predicted a rosy path forward for mango’s export potential, which he said would follow a trajectory similar to bananas.
“All we need to do is improve quality to meet market demand. Investment in packaging plants will also increase in the future,” he said.
He noted that the five packaging plants approved by the Chinese Customs Administration in April use either hot water treatment (HWT) or vapour heat treatment (VHT) facilities to sterilise their crops and exterminate pests, and have a combined capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year.
“Our company has a vision to develop more facilities in mango plantations to meet the export market. We will set up a drip irrigation system similar to those in banana plantations. We’ll also have a plant to clean for packaging and a dried-mango processing plant,” Lak said.
Speaking at the ceremony commemorating May 7’s inaugural shipment, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said the consignment weighed “over 100 tonnes”, and voiced hope that the export volume of fresh mangoes would continue to increase from year to year.
“Sanitary and phytosanitary measures have been playing an indispensable role as a bridge for agricultural products to foreign markets,” he said.
As of 2020, mangoes were grown on 130,000ha in the Kingdom, of which 91,104ha (70.08 per cent) are mature areas, yielding an average of more than 1.38 million tonnes per season, according to the ministry.