The Minister of Industry and Handicraft will hold a meeting with the Kingdom’s salt community in Kep and Kampot provinces next week to discuss the industry’s challenges, ministry spokesman Oum Sotha said.
The meeting comes after the Kingdom’s sole salt industry community, Salt Producers Community of Kampot-Kep (SPCKK), informed the ministry of its decision to disband.
Sotha told The Post on Wednesday that the ministry received the letter from the salt community requesting for its dissolution – though it did not cite reasons.
“The minister will have a meeting with provincial officials on the field to discuss the challenges and look for a solution, even though the community did not clarify their issues properly,” he said.
However, SPCKK technical chief Bun Narin told The Post on Thursday that price competition among local producers posed a challenge.
“It is hurting the community because we have to compete with our own local producers. How we can run our community while 30 per cent of salt producers will not join us. It impacts the sustainability of the community’s operations,” he said.
‘Waiting to hear of a solution’
The SPCKK has been in operation for 15 years and controls more than 4,600ha of salt fields across Kampot and Kep provinces belonging to around 200 families.
“Now we are waiting to hear from the ministry to find a solution for us,” Narin said.
Narin said the community sent the letter of dissolution to Kep and Kampot provincial governors, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft earlier this month.
‘Land will be used for salt production’
With rumours circulating that salt fields would be developed into other properties by Chinese investors, a Ministry of Industry and Handicraft spokesman said under a sub-decree, the government had marked the area exclusively for salt production and disallowed investors from transforming the area into other property.
“The land is privately owned, no matter if they sell it to anyone, the land will still be used for salt production, and they cannot transfer [the area] to other sectors or for development,” he said.
Thaung Thyda, the founder of Thaung Enterprise, a local salt producer, said though there is currently competition with imported salt, disunity among local producers is hurting the industry.
“It is very regretful [to hear about the community’s dissolution] and we hope in the near future a new association or community can be created to defend the interests of the [national] salt community – including all farmers and salt producers. Salt fields are the biggest asset for all of us and the country,” she said.
Last year, Cambodia announced that it will import approximately 30,000 tonnes of salt to fill a local shortage.