Prices of red corn have reportedly seen modest rises on surging demand for domestic feed production as the harvest season nears its end.
In northwestern provinces, red corn is typically harvested twice a year between late June and August and then again between late October and February.
In Tbong Khmum province, however, the crop is harvested between July and August and then again between late February and March, according to Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Heng Piseth.
Provincial Department of Commerce director Toch Sokhon told The Post on March 1 that Tbong Khmum’s red corn harvest has reached the 50 per cent mark with the wholesale price of dried kernels now about 1,300 riel ($0.32) per kilogramme, up nearly 20 per cent from 1,100 riel in the year-ago period.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tbong Khmum is the largest producer of red corn for domestic feed mills, with a production capacity of 56,750 tonnes per year on a total cultivated land of 10,790ha.
Sokhon said the bulk of the province’s red corn is sold to domestic feed mills, adding that increasing demand coupled with dwindling exports to Vietnam have buoyed the price.
He said he expects the heightened prices to provide an added boost to red corn cultivation this year.
“The price of dried red corn this year is better when compared to last year. Most of the red corn kernels here are bought by traders to [supply CP Cambodia Co Ltd’s] feed mills,” Sokhon said.
Piseth of the agriculture department said this harvest’s yields were similar to those during the same season last year.
He said red corn was planted on 6,560ha this season and is yielding an average of between 5.5 and 6.5 tonnes per hectare.
“The plantation area for corn now is similar to last year, but buying prices for traders are better than they were last year,” he said.
In the northwestern provinces where the harvest has recently come to a close, prices are now seemingly higher year-on-year.
Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout noted a trend of farmers from neighbouring provinces selling their red corn to Battambang-based traders to then resell to Thailand.
He said the price of the crop at the end of last month when the harvest season closed was 1,200-1,300 riel per kilogramme, a tad bit higher than the corresponding time last year.
Hout said about 70 per cent of Battambang’s red corn is exported by traders to Thailand, while the rest is sold to local animal feed producers such as CP Cambodia, a subsidiary of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group).
“Farmers growing red corn and cassava in Battambang this year are elated because of the high prices, although last year’s floods eroded some of the yields,” he added.
There are currently 18 domestic animal feed processing mills operating in Cambodia, with a total production capacity of more than 1.2 million tonnes per year, which accounts for 56 per cent of the country’s total supply, according to the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Animal Health and Production Tan Pannara.
As of December 29, total corn harvest area stood at 154,598ha with a total annual yield of 735,551 tonnes, according to a report from the directorate.
Cambodia exported a total of 194,625 tonnes of corn last year, an increase of 62.20 per cent from 119,993 tonnes in 2019, the ministry reported.