Cassava Farmers Enjoy Boom Times

The rising price of cassava has prompted farmers in Preah Vihear province to boost the area under cultivation from about 23,000 to nearly 30,000 hectares. Photo from General Directorate of Agriculture

Rising prices lead to expanded plantation

PHNOM PENH – The rising price of cassava has prompted farmers in Preah Vihear province to boost the area under cultivation from about 23,000 to nearly 30,000 hectares.

Planting takes place in June or July with the harvest in November or December. Fresh cassava costs about 300 riels ($0.073) to 400 riels ($0.098) per kilo, while dried cassava costs 700 riels ($0.17) to 800 riels ($0.20).

Most fresh cassava is exported to Vietnam, while Thailand is the biggest market for exported dried cassava chips.

Oeurn Nay, a cassava farmer in Tasu commune of Preah Vihear province, said he had doubled his cassava plantation area to 10 hectares  compared with last year.

 Nay used the land where he used to grow rice to cultivate cassava because, unlike other crops, cassava is easy to grow and needs less fertilizer. He gets 15 to 20 tonnes of cassava per hectare.  

“The reason we are expanding our planting is because we expect the price this year to be better than last year. Last year they also bought a lot from us,” he said.

“Now, we, farmers, grow more cassava because cassava is different from rice in terms of production. Within a hectare of land, growing rice is not profitable so we decided to grow cassava instead.”

Nay is also concerned about a possible change in prices in the future, as many farmers grow cassava at the same time.  If the price falls it will cause serious losses for all farmers, he said.

Nay said he wanted the price to be stable at 1,000 riel ($0.24) for dried cassava and 400 riel ($0.098) for fresh cassava, so that farmers can make some profit after paying for fertilizer and farm labour.

“If the price falls again, all the villagers will altogether be poor, because most of them have borrowed money to expand the land to grow casssava,” Nay said.

Another farmer growing cassava, Va Lorn, who lives in Saang commune in the same district as Oeurn Nay, said cassava had not yet reached a very good price yet but was acceptable for farmers. 

She said fresh cassava costs from about 350 riel ($0.086) per kilo, while dried cassava costs about 800 riels ($0.20).

Last year, Lorn planted cassava on only six hectares, but she decided to expand her farm to more than 20 hectares because cassava is easy to grow and profitable. 

Lek Sinan, head of the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment in Chey Saen district, said the price of cassava this year is good. Most of the product is sold to communities while a small amount goes to brokers. 

He had seen that farmers had grown more cassava due to the increased demand from abroad, especially from Vietnam. 

“This year, many farmers planted twice as much cassava as they had done before.  Some used to plant cassava on only three hectares but now the plantation covers up to seven or eight hectares,” he said.  

Peng Trida, director of Preah Vihear Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said cassava prices had been good for three years. 

Trida hoped that the price would rise again in the coming harvesting period.

According to a ministry  report on agriculture exports in the first five months of the year, fresh cassava exports reached 609,250 tonnes, up 79.72%, of which 420,550 tonnes were exported to Vietnam and 188,700 tonnes to Thailand.

Exports of dried cassava chips amounted 1,466,840 tonnes, up 21%, of which 1,089,300 tonnes went to Thailand and 377,450 tonnes to Vietnam.



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