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Palm oil exports expected to rise

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A worker rests near harvested oil palm fruits at a factory in Sepang, Malaysia, in 2014. MOHD RASFAN/AFP

Palm oil exports expected to rise

The Kingdom’s leading palm oil producer has projected revenues of $20 million this year as it targets another record-setting year for crude palm oil exports.

“We plan to export over 30,000 metric tonnes of crude palm oil this year, with revenue of approximately $20 million,” Prachak Kongtanomtham, vice president of Mong Reththy Investment Cambodia Oil Palm Co Ltd (MRIC), said yesterday.

MRIC, a joint venture subsidiary of local agro-industrial conglomerate Mong Reththy Group and Thailand’s TCC Group, exported a record 21,450 metric tonnes of crude palm oil in 2016, generating over $13.3 million in revenue, according to Prachak.

He said the company exported the oil to the EU, South Korea, China, Pakistan and India. It also delivered shipments to Malaysia, the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil.

Global prices of crude palm oil rose sharply last year due to lower production in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as a result of droughts. Many analysts expect prices to soften on rising output and slower demand in major markets.

“Palm oil prices have scope yet for short-term recovery, but will ‘trend lower’ in the second half of 2017, weighed by soft Chinese and Indian demand, besides recovering world output,” Malaysia-based palm oil giant Anglo-Eastern Plantations Plc said in April.

Prachak, however, expressed confidence that crude palm oil prices would hold the high ground, pointing out that Malaysia has scaled back its 2017 production estimates while the Malaysian ringgit has appreciated over the past year, making shipments priced in US dollars favourable to buyers.

“There are many key factors when forecasting the market,” he said, citing production plans for Indonesia and Malaysia, prices of alternative crops such as soya bean, and market demand in India, China and the EU.

About 17,000 hectares of MRIC’s palm oil plantations are harvestable. Two other companies operate commercial palm oil plantations in Cambodia, though only one has matured to harvest.

Malaysian-owned Virtus Green Plantations (Cambodia) operates a palm oil plantation on a portion of its 6,700-hectare economic land concession in Kampot province.

According to Chan Rethy, director of the province’s Agricultural Department, some of the company’s oil palms have already reached maturity.

“Virtus already harvested some of their plantation, but they sell to Mong Reththy’s company since their [processing] factory hasn’t been installed yet,” he said.

The Kingdom’s other major palm oil plantation is located in Ratanakkiri province, where subsidiaries of Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai have planted oil palms on 18,000 hectares. The first harvest is expected by next year.

“The oil palm trees have already matured and we expect that the company will start full harvesting within the next year,” said Soy Sona, director of the province’s Agricultural Department.

He added that the plantation and its processing plant will provide over 1,000 local jobs once fully operational.

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