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VN firm boosts banana prospects

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A store attendant arranges organic bananas on a shelf at the Khmer Cooperative Organic shop in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

VN firm boosts banana prospects

Vietnamese conglomerate Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) recently announced a $42 million investment to expand its banana plantation in the Kingdom’s Ratanakkiri province, said a Vietnam news agency.

The move comes two weeks after Cambodia signed an agreement with China to begin exporting the fruit to the Asian economic powerhouse.

HAGL which operates in the property, mining, hydropower and commercial agriculture sectors, owns 1,000 hectares of banana plantations in northeast Cambodia through three subsidiaries – Hoang Anh Andong Meas, Hoang Anh Pomphat and Hoang Anh Daun Penh Agrico.

With the expansion, the company will add more than 5,000 hectares to its portfolio, and aims to export to China market, said a company statement.

HAGL CEO Doan Nguyen Duc said every year, China needed about 15 million tonnes of bananas, while his firm can supply around 240,000 tonnes.

He expressed hope the company can export bananas to South Korea and Japan as well.

For the harvest this year, HAGL expects to collect 10 6,000 tonnes of bananas worth around $73 million.

Hun Lak, a director of Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd, which is a joint venture between Chinese and Hong Kong investors, said the investment would boost the standing of the Kingdom’s products in international markets.

“This new investment will help Cambodia by creating jobs, generating national income and making use of the land,” he said.

Longmate put down money to plant bananas on 1,000 hectares of land in Kampot province near the end of last year. It is currently preparing documents to export the fruit early next year.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s director-general at the general directorate of agriculture Hean Vanhan said he had not yet received information on HAGL’s expansion plan.

However, he welcomed the move as a boon for the industry.

“HAGL’s plan to invest more indicates the potential of Cambodia, which has begun exporting bananas to China,” he said. He noted that new phytosanitary requirements are needed in order to meet export standards.

HAGL has already exported two shipments of bananas to China.

The general directorate of agriculture said there are currently three large-scale banana farms in Ratanakkiri, Kratie and Kampot provinces with a total area of 4,996 hectares.

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