SOYBEAN export tonnage more than doubled in the first four months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol Department.
Some 2,479 tonnes of soybeans were exported during the period in 2011, up from 823 tonnes in the period last year, the statistics show.
Camcontrol Director Khuon Savuth said the ministry was working to directly connect Cambodian farmers with foreign buyers with the goal of increasing agricultural exports.
“This avoids the loss of profit to middlemen – a reason why farmers cultivate other crops instead [of soybeans],” he said.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials pointed to strong growing conditions for soybeans in the last year.
“Last year, farmers extended cultivation and the weather was favourable for soybeans as well,” said Khan Samban, director of the Ministry’s Agro-Industry Department. “Also, soybeans are more in demand in markets.”
United States soybean prices closed Friday at US$13.7975 a bushel in Chicago trading.
The price has gained 45 percent in the past year as Chinese purchases climbed to a record.
Khan Samban added that the ministry urged private sector producers to act together to acheive higher prices.
Cambodian traders say they are seeing rising demand for the crop in recent months.
“Soybeans are being sold to Vietnamese traders, because their demand is increasing and they buy at high price,” said Ngao Chea, a soybean trader from Battambang province.
His beans are fetching $720 per tonne this year, from $520 a tonne last year.
He said he has sold two thirds of the 60 tonnes he had purchased from farmers during the harvest season.
However, despite high prices, he said the province’s farmers will reduce soybean cultivation to plant more cassava and corn, as they offer higher yields and are also subject to rising demand from international buyers.
Ministry of Commerce statistics show Cambodia’s exports of soybeans totalled $11.14 million and 49,769 tonnes last year. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BLOOMBERG