Cambodia has appealed to Paper Tree Investment (Cambodia) Co Ltd to expand its eucalyptus-based pulp mill into paper production.

This would effectively make the facility the Kingdom’s first paper mill.

Paper Tree Investment is a subsidiary of Thai-based Paper Tree Holding Co Ltd. Established in 2013, the company is currently cultivating a total of 1,056ha of land in four different locations – two in Banteay Meanchey province, one in Battambang province and another one in Pailin province.

During a visit to one of its plantations, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon requested the company to expand its cultivation area and look into the possibility of engaging in contract farming arrangements to enhance the livelihoods of local communities.

At the same time, he also requested the company to consider converting its existing pulp mill into a pulp and paper mill.

“I would like to ask the company to look into the possibility of setting up a paper processing unit in Cambodia, rather than shipping raw materials to [paper mills in] Thailand,” he said.

Paper Tree Investment project director Tek Sopheak told The Post on Monday that the company is currently working to expand its eucalyptus tree plantations.

He said it also seeks to increase its wood purchases from growers in the provinces, which it then grinds to pulp before exporting it to Thailand.

Eucalyptus pulp is an important raw material in papermaking and in manufacturing other products, he said.

He noted that eucalyptus cultivation remains limited in the Kingdom despite the high market demand, adding that the company must first expand its plantation area before committing to investing in a full-fledged pulp and paper mill, the likes of those in Thailand.

“When we have sufficient raw material, the company plans to set up a paper mill and a wooden tile factory,” said Sopheak.

But given the ongoing economic slump, he said, another three-to-five years are required for the Kingdom to be able to supply enough eucalyptus for a paper mill.

He said his company currently purchases eucalyptus trees at $25-$30 per tonne.

Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said there are currently three large eucalyptus tree farms in the province.

The tree is not only easy to grow, but also harbours great potential for the economy, he said.

“As local authorities, we always encourage investors and people to plant more trees. Not only does this help create new jobs and new opportunities for families to earn income, but it also contributes to the care of the environment,” he said.