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Unseasonable rainfall melts salt production hopes

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Salt fields in Kep province. File Photo Heng Chivoan

Unseasonable rainfall melts salt production hopes

This year's salt market will not be as strong as it was last year, with yields and prices expected to drop, according to salt producers in Kampot province.

Bun Baraing, a salt producer in the province, told The Post on April 20 that unseasonal rainfall in the dry season – which he attributed to climate change – will chip away at production of the commodity this year to below 2020 levels, even with one month left in the harvest season.

Prices have also dropped to about 10,000 riel ($2.50) per 50kg sack of salt, he said. "Last year, they [the sacks] could sell for between 12,000 and 13,000 riel, but now they only go for 10,000 riel and to boot, yields are not as high as they were before."

Worse still, distribution has been disrupted, especially in and around the capital, due to lockdown restrictions on transport imposed in light of rising Covid-19 infections stemming from the February 20 community transmission, he added.

Bun Narin, another salt producer in Kampot, said rainfall in areas of the province since the end of last month has rocked the salt-production boat. In addition to output issues, market distribution has also been plagued by shipping issues, especially in recent days.

As of the end of last month, the province’s salt stockpiles had reached about 40,000 tonnes, according to Narin.

Kampot provincial Department of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation director Sok Kim Choeun could not be reached for comment, but he told The Post early last month that the province, the Kingdom’s leading salt producer, is expected to yield less of the commodity than reported last year due to adverse weather conditions.

He said: “The salt collected in Kampot this year will not be as much as last year. Just at the start of March, there were already two unexpected showers – during the dry season.”

According to Kim Choeun, Kampot’s salt marshes cover 3,726ha – unchanged from last year.

But with Kampot and neighbouring Kep province producing 85,000 and 20,000 tonnes of salt last year, nationwide yield was more than enough to cover the Kingdom’s annual 100,000-tonne demand, he affirmed.

Salt production in Kampot and Kep covered 4,748ha in 2019 and employed 5,000 workers, the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation said in a report. With suitable weather conditions, each hectare can yield 20 tonnes of salt per annum, it said.

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