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Rice mogul spices up business with pepper

Song Saran talks to the Post about Cambodia’s rice sector in November 2015.
Song Saran talks to the Post about Cambodia’s rice sector in November 2015. Pha Lina

Rice mogul spices up business with pepper

Cambodia rice mogul Song Saran, the CEO of one of the Kingdom’s top rice exporters, will diversify his agricultural business interests with the construction of a factory to clean and process locally grown pepper, he said yesterday.

The new factory is being built on 3,000 square metres of land in Memot district of Tbong Khmum province, which accounts for over 70 percent of Cambodia’s pepper harvest.

Its pepper cleaning and processing line is scheduled to open next month and reach its full capacity of 15 tonnes per day by January.

Saran, CEO of Amru Rice and three other sister companies engaged in rice production and export, said the new $400,000 factory is an investment by Amret Rungroeung Group Ltd, a trading firm he established in 2009.

“Since my investment in the rice industry has gone smoothly and successfully, I decided to turn my attention to expanding my other company that has been trading agricultural products since 2009,” Saran said.

He said the company would initially focus on processing black pepper, but it could eventually add separate production lines for other spices, such as ginger and turmeric.

“We’ll focus on black pepper first as we’ve seen the pepper industry grow very rapidly and we cannot depend only on Thailand and Vietnam as buyers,” he said. “We need to build up our own market and connect to the world.”

According to Saran, this will be only the second processing factory to set up in the pepper-growing region. Buyers in the EU and Dubai have already agreed to purchase shipments of 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes per year, he added.

Saran said he would work with around 400 contract farmers in Tbong Khmum province to ensure the quality and standard of the product.

Hong San, board director of the Dar-Memot Pepper Agriculture Development Cooperative, said he welcomed the opening of a new processing factory as it would make local farmers less inclined to sell their pepper to Thai and Vietnamese brokers.

“If we have a factory here our pepper will fetch a better price than that offered by brokers,” he said, adding that brokers were offering $3.5 per kilo for black pepper, which was well below the break-even price of farmers.

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