The US sent its first shipment of food-grade soybeans to Cambodia last week, exporting a total of 14 tonnes to both Cambodia and Myanmar to be processed in the receiving countries, according to US media reports.
The shipments were sent to soy milk and tofu companies in the Kingdom, potentially opening up a long-term relationship between the US and Cambodian-based soy companies, according to a report from US-based American Ag Radio Network.
Hean Vanhan, director general at the Agriculture Ministry’s General Directorate, said he was unaware of the shipment and did not know which Cambodia-based processing companies were receiving the beans, but added the move as a positive one for the country’s economy.
“Our economy will likely benefit from this,” Vanhan said. “The best way is to use the raw materials produced in the country, but if the cost of production is higher for local produce, then it is better to import.”
Local soybean producers have been suffering due to high processing costs and low profitability for several years now, according to farmer Loeng Kim Sean, who once headed the Tah Ong Soybean Development Association in Kampong Cham province.
The association was dissolved a year ago, Kim Sean said yesterday, as he and other farmers switched from soybeans to produce more profitable crops, such as cashews or cassava.
“Farmers gave up farming soybeans because the prices are too low for them to make a profit,” he said, adding that there were no remaining soybean farmers in the province.
“I could not give a better price to the farmer due to a lot of competition in the market from soybean imports…so we are better off looking for other potential crops instead.”