Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Craftsman’s palm tree products in Pursat province a huge success

Craftsman’s palm tree products in Pursat province a huge success

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The long slender sugar palm tree has long been honoured in poetry and art for its important role in providing income and building materials in Cambodia for generations. Photo supplied

Craftsman’s palm tree products in Pursat province a huge success

In front of a handicraft workshop in Pursat province, hundreds of sugar palm tree products are displayed on long tables, their uniqueness attracting curiosity from those passing by.

Tissue boxes, cups, bowls, teapots, pestle and mortars, ladles, forks, spoons, plates and chopsticks – souvenirs of different sizes and styles, all made using sugar palm by craftsman San Pov in his workshop in Bakan district’s Boeung Chhouk village.

The long slender sugar palm tree has long been honoured in poetry and art for its important role in providing income and building materials in Cambodia for generations.

It can be harvested for its leaves, flowers, fruit and trunk. Palm sugar is also present in many Khmer food recipes, while its juice and wine remain local favourites. Thatched roofs, fans and hats made from palm wood are still a common sight in rural Cambodia, while it remains the building material of choice for many rural homes and boats.

At Pov’s workshop, which specialises in converting dead trees into usable objects, his products bring sugar palm products into modern usage, taking these rural delights and introducing them to city dwellers, restaurants and hotels.

After going through a business crisis almost 10 years ago, forcing him to sell his livestock and rice field, the craftsman started his small family business that has grown exponentially and now employs more than 120 workers – more than 50 per cent of whom are women.

“I’ve been doing sugar palm handicrafts for about 10 years. I started very small as a family business in 2004."

“In the past three to four years, I’ve expanded hugely. My workshop is on a big 25 metre by 25 metre plot of land. I invested in lathe machines [machines that process wood] from China after using $190,000 I borrowed,” Pov said.

Because of his product’s uniqueness, Pov has received orders from clients overseas too.

“Now my workshop is very busy, but not only with local clients. Orders have also come from Thailand and the US,” he said.

The business has faced some criticism for what some view as encouraging the cutting down of sugar palm trees. Pov, however, believes this is based on a misconception of how his operation works.

“I think it’s only a small minority of people that have this misconception about my business. Most people support me because they know that I don’t use palm trees that were cut down – I only buy the dead ones. The palm trees that I use are the very old ones that have died or ones that were struck by lightning.”

Pov is committed to promoting Khmer identity and culture, as well as supporting his local community, through his products. He proudly states that he employs some workers without skills and trains them up to perform jobs.

“I pay my workers and craftsmen a reasonable salary of $250 to $350 a month. The lead craftsman can even earn $500 per month.”

Pov’s sugar palm products are retailed in 25 provinces and cities throughout Cambodia. Prices range from 6,000 riel ($1.50) for a small cup to 8,000 riel for a large one. He also sells luxury palm products such as furniture that can cost up to $50,000.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement