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SK firm looking to boost agri-exports

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Farmers tend to a pepper plant on a plantation. Post Staff

SK firm looking to boost agri-exports

South Korean-owned Kampong Speu province-based Hyundai Mao Legacy Co Ltd wants to expand its exports of Cambodian pepper, cashew nuts and sugar to the Korean market following a series of successful shipments of fresh mangoes and other agricultural products.

Cambodian ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche told The Post on Tuesday that a trade team led by embassy commercial attache Khat Chen last week brought samples of the three Cambodian agricultural products to multinational conglomerate Hyundai Corp for review.

Following an inspection, he said, Hyundai Corp is considering a purchase deal of the products through Hyundai Mao Legacy, its joint venture that invests in mango plantations and mango packaging plants in the province’s southwesternmost Treng Trayoeng commune in Phnom Sruoch district.

Hyundai Mao Legacy currently exports mangoes, banana leaves and flowers, lemongrass and galangal to South Korea, he said, adding that it plans to add frog, red tilapia, mudfish, catfish and Pangasius djambal to its portfolio.

Cambodia exported more than 2.68 million tonnes of agricultural products in the first seven months of this year. Of that, pepper accounted for 3,430 tonnes and cashew nuts 194,525.

Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA) president Nguon Lay told The Post on Tuesday that the samples were part of the government’s larger strategy to secure markets for agricultural products, with Kampot pepper as top priority.

He noted that the South Korean-owned Corem Green Co Ltd – based in Phsar village in the south of Kampong Chhnang province’s northwestern Boribor district – purchased between four and five tonnes of Kampot pepper to sell to the Korean market last year.

But the company has yet to order additional pepper since Covid-19 hit, he said. “The Korean people recognise the quality of Kampot pepper, with its uplifting aroma and delectable taste.”

He estimated the volume of Kampot pepper exports to South Korea to be between 10 and 20 tonnes per year. “The EU remains the largest market for Kampot pepper, followed by the US, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.”

He said the market for Kampot pepper was unable to dodge the overarching devastation wrought by Covid-19 on the global economy and is now experiencing a slump.

As of this month, he said, a mere 10 tonnes of the commodity have been sold, keeping 120 to 130 tonnes of pepper in stock.

Sophal Laikong, factory operations manager at Santana Agro Products, which grows cashew nut on 400ha in Preah Vihear province’s southern Rovieng district, told The Post: “China is the largest market for cashew nuts today with South Korea the second largest.”

He said his company exported more than 60 tonnes of cashew nuts in the first half of the year to China, South Korea, Japan and the EU.

The Kingdom exported some 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts last year, up nearly 100 per cent from 2018’s 101,973 tonnes, said a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The area allotted to cashew nut cultivation totals 149,660ha, spanning 22 provinces. Almost 60 per cent is harvested land, which yielded 116,343 tonnes in 2018, data from the ministry show.

Minister Veng Sakhon has said the value of agricultural product shipments to the international market has steadily increased from nearly $1 billion in 2013 to $1.5 billion last year.

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