Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat is set to start operations at a US$150 million white sugar processing plant in Kampong Speu province by the end of the year.
Japanese engineers were testing machinery and preparing for pilot production at Phnom Penh Sugar Company, owned by the senator, company representative Chheang Sun said.
The launch could be as early as November, she said.
Trial runs on the machinery had been slow and onerous, Chheang Sun said.
“We just started trying to use it, but it did not go well. And we did some production, but it did not work well,” she said, adding that she didn’t know the exact date for an inauguration.
Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in the province has received scrutiny from rights groups since 2010, after villagers said they were pushed off their land by the senator, the Post reported.
Earlier this year, villagers in Omlaing commune were summonsed to court in the dispute over the land.
Soldiers have routinely protected the plant and the land concessions.
The company grows sugar cane on 20,000 of the 40,000 hectares awarded to it by the government.
The sugar produced in Kampong Speu will be for local consumption, Chheang Sun said.
Sugar produced in Koh Kong went to the United Kingdom.
According to the data from the Commerce Ministry, in 2011 Cambodia exported 10 million tonnes of white sugar, worth $4.5 million to the United Kingdom.
In the same year, Cambodia imported 20,000 tonnes of sugar from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
In January 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in the opening ceremony of the White Sugar Factory in Koh Kong, also owned by Ly Yong Phat, that Cambodia has the capacity to export not only rice and milled rice but also white sugar.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]