Investment Needed for Cassava Exports to China

Farmers harvest cassava in Oddar Meanchey province. Photo: Photo: Cassava Farmers Association of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s cassava sector is seeking more investment to supply the Chinese market.

El Chhinh, president of the Cassava Farmers Association of Cambodia, said Chinese company Advance Digital World Trade talked in September about importing 400,000 tonnes of dry cassava from Cambodia.

However, the total might be only 100,000 tonnes at the first try, El Chhinh said.

There has yet to be an agreement on the purchase because the association does not have enough capital to supply to the company, while the quality does not yet meet the standard and conditions of the company.

The cassava sector, therefore, needs more investment to buy from the locals and prepare for export to China.

Chhinh said the farmers must improve their plantation technicalities such as the cassava variety, harvested products, and drying process in line with export standards.

“They gave us a try with 100,000 tonnes first, but we could not supply even that amount because we don’t have investment partners to buy from the locals,” he said.

“We only got to know their demands first from the earlier negotiation, and we are seeking investment partners to be able to export.”

Chhinh hopes for the exports in the future despite the challenge and a series of conditions to meet.

The price to the Chinese market is not higher than that to Thailand or Vietnam but the agreement would expand the market.

A wider market would push for more land plantation, thus maintaining prices.

Based on the international standard, dry cassava for export should have less than 14 percent moisture content. The starch content in the cassava slides should be at least 65 to 70 percent.

The fungus content should be less than four percent and soil sticking to the cassava should be only three to seven percent.

The cassava is currently at a good price, compared to previous years. Plantation, however, has decreased around 30 percent due to droughts early this year.

There are around 700,000 to 900,000 hectares of cassava plantation across the country. The price ranges between 250 riel and over 600 riel per kilogram. In some areas, the price used to be only 190 riel.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, cassava is one of the most important agricultural products, following rice, corn and wheat. It is planted by local people in rural areas and has potential due to its fast growth and product content.

The national policy for cassava 2020-2025 shifts the cassava traditional or family production to commercial and technical production and implements the technical principles that allow farmers to earn high incomes and use soil sustainably and smart agriculture immune to climate change.

The government also encourages cassava processing enterprises to improve their efficiency to increase the price and attract more investment.

Competitiveness should be promoted by integrating and capturing the market, improving trading facilitation, cutting costs and mediating with inter-sectoral factors related to exports.

Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Meng Seavmey for Cambodianess.

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