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Mangoes to fetch high prices

Mong Chanthol, manager of Mong Reththy Group’s pig and mango farms, inspects a mango at one of the company’s properties in Preah Sihanouk province late last month
Mong Chanthol, manager of Mong Reththy Group’s pig and mango farms, inspects a mango at one of the company’s properties in Preah Sihanouk province late last month. Heng Chivoan

Mangoes to fetch high prices

This week, Post reporter Hor Kimsay speaks with Mong Chanthol, the youngest son of agriculture business tycoon Mong Reththy. As the manager of Mong Reththy Group’s mango plantation and soon-to-be built mango packaging plant in Preah Sihanouk province, Chanthol says Cambodia is on its way to becoming the home of one of the world’s most luxuriously priced fruits – the Irwin mango.

What is the Irwin mango? How did you come to begin planting this “luxury fruit”?
It is the first breed of Mango that Mong Reththy brought to Cambodia from Taiwan. It is already known among buyers in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore. In Japan, we have seen the Irwin sell for $45 each. When we start to export the Irwin mango, we envisage it will be sold for $20 per kilo. Our farm currently has about 80,000 trees of Irwin mango and we will add another 50,000 trees by the end of this year. We plan to spread out the Irwin breed to other farmers after we fill up the land that we have.

If you do sell the Irwin to other farmers, how much can they expect to pay for it?
It is too early to say. We are not sure whether we will sell it or we will instead employ contract farmers, who would grow the new breed and sell the fruit back to us only. This might be an option, but we will make that decision later.

Tell us about the Mango packaging plant you are building to export the Irwin mangoes.

We have already signed the MoU with an investment partner from Singapore. We are currently building the $2 million packaging and cleaning plant here at our Preah Sihanouk estate and we plan to finish by the end of this year. From there, we hope to export 4,000 tonnes of the mangoes within the first year.

Will the factory only package Irwin mangoes picked on your farm or will you also buy Keo Romeat mangoes from other farmers to export?
It depends on the market. If the market needs more of the Cambodian Keo Romeat mango breed, we may buy and package them for export. But as far as I know, the Irwin mango is already popular, in high demand overseas and attracts a premium price.

Tell us about the Mong Reththy Group’s businesses here in Preah Sihanouk.

Over the 30,000-hectare estate, we have a pig farm, palm oil, rubber and now mango plantations. About 60 people are employed in the mango business already. Maybe 250 people are employed in our pig farming operation and more than 5,000 in the palm oil operations during the
high season.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

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