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Thai rules may hurt cassava

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Cassava farmers harvest the crop in Pailin province in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Thai rules may hurt cassava

Thailand has put a restriction on agricultural product imports from neighbouring countries. The move may impact Cambodian cassava exports, which rely mostly on the Thai market, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

After receiving the notice from Thai authorities, the ministry informed Cambodian exporters to follow the new terms to continue exporting to the Thai market.

Though the 2018-2019 season cassava harvests are expected to be completed by the end of this month, the ministry’s General Department of Agriculture informed local exporters of cassava products to be well prepared before exporting to Thailand.

The Thai Department of Agriculture recently issued a notice on Cambodian cassava product imports, which requires all exporters to request import permission from Thailand and ensure the commodities be free of insects and various other organisms.

They must have a phytosanitary certificate and a certificate of origin for transport. The notice states that when the products arrive at the border gate if Thai authorities find a problem, the products will be returned or destroyed on the spot.

Kim Hout, the director of the Battambang provincial Department of Commerce, the province where cassava is mostly grown, on Tuesday said because Cambodia’s cassava is mostly exported to Thailand, there will be an inevitable impact.

However, he said: “As the cassava harvest is nearly finished, it will not seriously affect the farmers and exporters, but it will do so next season.”

According to Hout, about 90 per cent of cassava exports is sent to Thailand while the rest is sent to Vietnam.

He said cassava output this year fell compared to the previous season, owing to many farmers switching to other products – such as red corn.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the Thai restrictions could have a short-term impact for Cambodia, but it will provide tremendous benefits for goods exports and agricultural products in the future.

“I think it is an instruction for Cambodia to develop its products for better quality and phytosanitation, which will help its exports to international markets,” he said.

Ministry figures show that cassava cultivation in Cambodia has increased to 614,000ha of land, delivering a yield of more than 13,817,000 tonnes in 2017.

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