Cambodia exported nearly 700,000 tonnes of red corn in 2021, dropping by nearly five per cent from more than 730,000 tonnes a year earlier. But the value of these shipments reached nearly $53 million, increasing by more than eight per cent year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.

Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture’s Statistics Office deputy chief Prum Wek told The Post on January 6 that as of 2021, the province had 53,352ha under red corn cultivation, of which 49,964ha were harvested, with a yield of 285,414 tonnes, down around 25 per cent from 2020.

He said the red corn cultivation area and output in the northwestern province decreased in 2021 as a fair share of farmers grew cassava during the year as part of their crop rotation, a practice he stressed makes the soil softer and more fertile and has been practiced by local growers for a long time.

“Although yields are low, the price of corn is expensive at 600-650 riel [$0.15-0.16] per kilogramme, while in 2020 the rate was only 500 riel, including for traders taking the corncobs to process for mushroom cultivation,” Wek said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Agriculture director Pang Vannaseth said red corn cultivation is “abundant” in the southwesternmost district of Malai, adding that more than 50,000 tonnes were harvested from over 10,000ha in 2021, a similar volume as in 2020.

He shared that red corn is the third most widely-grown crop in the province, after rice and cassava.

The main market for Banteay Meanchey red corn in Thailand, with a significant portion bought by local traders to be processed into animal feed, he said.

“Despite the Covid-19 crisis, the export of crops sold at border areas, especially red corn, has not been hampered by any restrictions on agricultural produce by authorities of either country,” Vannaseth said.

Kampong Cham provincial Department of Agriculture director Sim Thavirak said the area under red corn cultivation in the province has surpassed 5,000ha, mostly concentrated near rivers.

“The average price of red corn is between 900 and 1,000 riel for dried kernels, which is a reasonable price, but agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides are still expensive, making farming less profitable.”

In mid-2021, the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture called on red corn exporters to comply with Thailand’s then-latest list of new requirements, which included obtaining an import permit from the Thai Department of Agriculture in advance before exporting.

Corn kernels must be clean and free from contaminants, spoilage and other biosecurity risks, packed in clean and new packaging, and undergo methyl bromide fumigation before going to Thailand, it said, adding that a fumigation declaration must be included on the phytosanitary certificate for each consignment.

The merchandise must be shipped in containers or other suitable cargo transport units, it said, adding that consignments transported in smaller trucks must be sealed or covered with canvas or similar material for phytosanitary security.