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Red corn prices tumble as growers switch to cassava

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Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout said about 80 per cent of the province’s red corn is exported by traders to Thailand. Heng Chivoan

Red corn prices tumble as growers switch to cassava

The wholesale price of fresh red corn in northwestern Battambang province dipped more than seven per cent from the year-ago period as this year’s first harvest reached 30 per cent completion, provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout said.

Red corn is harvested twice a year between late June and August and then again between late October and February.

Hout told The Post on Monday that the crop’s price depends on fluctuations in the Thai market, where most local output ends up.

Quoting prices in the Thai currency, he said fresh red corn currently nets 3,800 baht ($121) per tonne, down from 4,100 baht during the same time last year. He noted that the price only applies during the year’s first harvest.

The price during the second harvest is typically higher.

Hout said about 80 per cent of Battambang’s red corn is exported by traders to Thailand, while the balance is supplied to local animal feed company CP Cambodia Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group).

Provincial Department of Agriculture director Chhim Vachira said the cultivation area of red corn in the province declined sharply this year compared to previous years as farmers opted to plant cassava instead.

On the other hand, Battambang’s agricultural sector has not registered a significant decline this year, he said.

“The provincial Department of Agriculture is currently working to diversify agriculture and boost the province’s capability to provide food and other agricultural products, including agro-industrial crops, vegetables and aquaculture products,” Vachira said.

He noted that overall agricultural production in the province had expanded this year compared to last year.

Chan Muoy, the owner of a silo storage facility and collection point in Battambang province’s northwestern Sampov Loun district, attributed the marginal decline in red corn price in part to Covid-19 concerns.

As more farmers abandon the crop in favour of cassava, she said, this year’s yield is expected to undershoot last year’s level.

She said Monday’s per-tonne price was 3,900 baht on average for fresh red corn on the cob and 8,000 baht for dried kernels.

Phen Noeut, a red corn and potato farmer in the same district, said market and weather concerns have led him to considerably scale back red corn cultivation this year.

He said he planted only 1ha of red corn this year, down from last year’s 6ha. He switched the remaining land to cassava. “I figured that growing cassava could be more productive than red corn.”

According to the Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries figures, red corn will be grown on more than 43,000ha of land in the province this year, down from more than 73,000 ha last year.

One hectare of red corn will produce an average of 2.83 tonnes this year, the department estimated.

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