Yang Saing Koma, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, highlighted the significance of red corn as a vital agricultural product. This cash crop, he said, plays a critical role in large-scale animal feed processing and contributes to the food industry locally, regionally and globally.

He disclosed on October 22 that Cambodia dedicated approximately 200,000ha of land to red corn cultivation last year, resulting in a substantial yield of over 1.1 million tonnes, with more than 170,000 tonnes exported to Thailand and Vietnam.

Saing Koma noted that the provinces leading in red corn production include Battambang, Kandal, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Pailin, Kratie, Pursat, Prey Veng and Preah Vihear.

“With favourable market conditions and competitive prices, there is potential to expand the cultivation of red corn, which is gaining increasing significance on a global scale, primarily in the production of animal feeds and various other applications,” he asserted.

He highlighted that, in collaboration with commune agricultural officials and the Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers, his ministry will facilitate the development of production chains and red corn markets. This strategic approach aims to enhance economic efficiency for both farmers and the broader society. Additionally, the ministry is actively engaged in vital research and development related to crop varieties and seeds.

According to a report from the Battambang provincial agriculture department, as of October 22, the cultivation of red corn in the province has expanded to over 130,000ha through two cultivation cycles this year. The first harvest – from mid-March to early May – has already been completed, and currently farmers are actively engaged in harvesting the second crop.

Heng Sithy, a senior official at the Battambang agriculture department, noted on October 22 that the harvesting will extend until December.

“This year, Battambang cultivates a larger quantity of corn compared to cassava due to its higher market demand. Local traders show a preference for whole corn, and its price remains competitive, ranging from 650 to 700 riel ($0.16–$0.18) per kilogramme,” he said.

Em Sophoan, the proprietor of Hing Sophoan Silo in Battambang, said her silo has completed its initial round of purchasing, acquiring more than 10,000 tonnes. Generally, her silo procures around 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes annually.

She clarified that her decreased purchasing is not due to lower yields from farmers but rather a cautious approach, driven by reduced corn imports from Cambodia by the Thai side, which has seen an increase in their own corn production.

Nonetheless, Sophoan noted that the corn price remains favourable, and the market remains robust, with local companies, including agriculture conglomerate Mong Reththy Group, placing substantial orders with farmers.

“My silo has decreased its procurement of red corn from farmers. However, this year, domestic companies have made substantial purchases for the production of animal feed. In addition, the silo in [neighbouring] Pailin province has increased its acquisitions from Battambang due to lower yields from corn farming in Pailin,” she stated.

She also noted that farmers in her area cultivated a larger quantity of corn this year due to favourable prices.

According to a recent Ministry of Commerce report, in the first nine months of 2023, red corn exports had exceeded $42 million, marking a growth of over 20 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.