Cambodia generated $99.87 million from natural rubber exports in the first four months of 2021, up by 2.5 per cent from $97.43 million in the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
By weight, however, exports dropped by 15 per cent to 61,056 tonnes in January-April from 71,749 in the corresponding period last year.
Men Sopheak, owner of Sopheak Nika Investment Agro-Industrial Plants Co Ltd, a rubber grower and exporter, told The Post on May 2 that growing demand in China, the world's largest market, has pushed up rubber prices in Cambodia since the beginning of this year.
The average price of Cambodian rubber at Vietnamese ports stands at about $1,800 per tonne, up from more than $1,400 in the year-ago period, he said.
"The reason for the increase in revenue from Cambodia's rubber exports is because prices were higher earlier this year," Sopheak said, adding that he was unaware of a notable expansion in rubber cultivation area in recent years.
He said his company's January-April exports were on pace with last year.
Heng Piseth, head of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Tbong Khmum province, which boasts 78,000ha in rubber plantation area, said investment in rubber planting had left much to be desired, with some families and companies even turning to cashew nuts or bananas.
He said rubber yields in the province will likely match last year's figures.
"The price at which traders and companies buy rubber from farmers this year is slightly higher due to higher demand in the international market," Piseth said.
Rubber plantations in Cambodia cover a total of 404,159ha, according to the General Department of Rubber. Of this, 292,497ha (72 per cent) are tapped for latex, while 111,663ha (28 per cent) are “under maintenance”, or in their immature phase yet to deliver a first harvest.
And according to the ministry, the Kingdom exported more than 350,000 tonnes of rubber last year, earning more than $482 million, with most bound for China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.