Corn farmers and dealers in the country’s northwestern provinces fear a decline in sales this season as local storage facilities become increasingly scarce and demand from Thai importers declines.
Khun Thorn, president of Ta Sdar Samky Farmer Community in Battambang province, told the Post yesterday that corn prices had sunk to 600 riel per kilogram this year, down 40 per cent from 1,000 riel last year.
Thorn said the price slump was a result of importing processes in Thailand becoming stricter and fewer people operating storage facilities.
“There used to be a local middleman with big silos who would buy all the harvest from our farmers. Now they do not buy from us because exporting to Thailand has become stricter,” she said.
“Farmers are very worried now as the harvesting period has begun. We [farmers] have taken loans from the bank, but do not know where to sell our corn.”
Figures from the Battambang, Pailin and Bantey Meanchey provincial agricultural departments show Battambang is leading Cambodia’s corn production with a cultivation area of more than 27,250 hectares. On average, farmers are producing up to 4 tonnes of corn per hectare.
Sarun Chanthu, a corn dealer in neighbouring Bantey Meanchey province who sells on average 1,000 tonnes of corn a year to Thai traders, said he has not received one order from Thai buyers since January.
“I do not buy any corn to stock due to fear of loss as there are no orders. It is not a good business for me, but I think it is harder for farmers because they get loans from the bank to fund their plantations,” he said.
Meas Leun, a corn grower in Pailin province, said farmers in his area are facing similar concerns.
“With no proper facility to keep the harvested corn, farmers have no choice other than to sell at whatever price is offered,” he said.
Jiranan Wongmongkol, the Thai Embassy’s foreign trade promotion director in Phnom Penh, could not pinpoint the cause for the declines and assured farmers that Thailand had not enforced any ban on imports of agricultural products.
“Regarding demand, it is really up to traders if they need more or less corn,” she said.
Last month, the Ministry of Commerce vowed to uncover more markets for Cambodian products such as rice, cassava and corn to help reduce price fluctuations caused by the Kingdom’s dependency on neighbouring countries.
The Ministry of Commerce did not respond to requests for comment.