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Salt stockpiles keep on rising

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An employee collects salt crystals at a salt farm in Kep province last year as the sun sets. The Kingdom’s salt producers are struggling to sell their produce, leading to huge salt stockpiles. Heng Chivoan

Salt stockpiles keep on rising

Cambodian salt is piling up, and the huge surplus is proving difficult to sell, as local consumers look to cheaper salt from Thailand, government and industry officials said yesterday.

Salt production in Kampot and Kep provinces – home to Cambodia’s salt fields – reached 270,000 tonnes this year, according to the figures from the Salt Producer Community of Kampot and Kep.

But, Bun Barang, deputy of Salt Producer Community in Kampot, estimates that Cambodian’s consume just 100,000 tonnes of salt annually, the majority of which is being purchased from Thailand.

“This year 60 per cent of salt consumption was imported from Thailand with the cheaper price compared to the domestic price,” he said.

Barang said his salt producing community sells 50 kilogram bags of salt for about 8,600 riel ($2.10), while the price for Thai salt, while it can vary, is always cheaper, he said.

“We can no longer decrease the price, [of Cambodian salt] due to higher of packaging and labour cost.”

Heng Sok Kung, secretary of state, at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft said that he was working on ways to promote Cambodian salt to local consumers as a better quality alternative.

He added that the government was considering options that might aid in the export of Cambodian surplus.

“We have already proposed to the royal government to do an exemption of exported salt from the community to push this enterprise work more smoothly,” he said.

Chev Hoy, a salt farmer in Kampot, said salt from neighbouring countries was being trafficked across the border without paying import fees.

Producers in Thailand were able to produce salt at lower rates, he said, making it difficult for Cambodian producers to compete.

“If we cannot sell out, we will stock the surplus salt in storage, and it is then reserved to be released next year,” he said.

Currently, about 700 farmers cultivate around 4,500 hectares of salt production land within the two provinces.

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