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Palm oil yields up as crop matures

Tycoon Mong Reththy is head of Mong Reththy Group, Cambodia's only active palm oil producer.
Tycoon Mong Reththy is head of Mong Reththy Group, Cambodia's only active palm oil producer. Heng Chivoan

Palm oil yields up as crop matures

Export of crude palm oil from Mong Reththy Group, the Kingdom’s only active producer, doubled during the first half of the year despite prices showing no indication of improving, a company executive said yesterday.

Mong Reththa, vice chairman of the board of directors at Mong Reththy Investment Cambodia Palm Oil, said the group subsidiary exported 13,000 tonnes of crude palm oil during the first six months of 2016, a 116 per cent increase compared to the same period one year earlier. The value of the exported product reached $7.5 million in the first half of the year, compared to $3.5 million one year earlier.

Reththa attributed the increase in export volume to the expansion of the company’s harvest area as more trees reached productive age, and to higher yields from maturing trees.

“We had more mature trees to harvest this year that can provide a higher yield,” he said. “The price is still not good, however. Even with our export volume increasing we don’t make a good profit on it.”

According to Reththa, the international price of crude palm oil has remained flat for the past year and currently stands at about $600 per tonne, or about 25 per cent below 2013 prices.

Mong Reththy Investment Cambodia Palm Oil has planted oil palm trees on 16,150 hectares, of which more than 8,000 hectares have reached a productive age. The crude palm oil from the company’s plantation is primarily exported to Malaysia, China, South Korea and the EU.

At least two other companies in Cambodia operate commercial oil palm plantations, though neither have reported completing their first harvest. One of these, Virtus Green Plantations (Cambodia), has planted oil palms on its 6,700-hectare economic land concession (ELC) in Kampot province.

According to the company’s website, Virtus planted a total of 800 hectares of oil palm as of the end of 2014. Oil palms typically begin to produce three to four years after planting, and enjoy peak production from about seven to 18 years.

Khan Samban, director of the department of industrial crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the expansion of oil palm cultivation was a positive move for the country as the crop is labour-intensive. “Expansion of palm oil plantations will create jobs for rural people and help to reduce migration,” he said.

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