Phnom Penh: While the pandemic has put the brakes on much of the Cambodian economy, it’s been a hugely successful year so far for Cambodian farmers.
Exports of bananas and mangoes are on track for record highs. Rice exports have surged to new markets.
With seasonal rains arriving early this year there are hopes the drought of the past two years is over. And it may well be if Cambodia’s exports are anything to go by. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries says the country shipped over 205-thousand tonnes of Cavendish bananas between January and May. Over the whole of last year, that figure was 300-thousand. China is now the biggest market for Cambodia’s bananas, importing nearly 180-thousand tonnes.
With orders piling up, Cambodian farmers are expanding cultivation areas. Over the past year, those have grown from 10-thousand to 30-thousand hectares.
It’s a similar story under the mango tree. Thanks to last year’s approval by China for Cambodian mangoes, the country’s cultivation area has rapidly expanded to around 100-thousand hectares, with 37 newly certified mango plantations and five packaging factories being built over the past few months. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries says so far this year, over 150-thousand tonnes of fresh mangoes have been exported worldwide – an increase of over 250%.
While rice farmers have seen an overall drop in exports this year, they will be happy with their new markets. According to the Ministry, global exports of Cambodian milled rice were down almost 35% in the first five months of this year – but interestingly enough, exports to new markets in Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates are up 82% year-on-year.
Further good news for rice farmers – especially those in Preah Vihear, is that the wife of Member of Parliament, Sous Yara, will buy any of their unsold rice from this season’s harvest and export that to China.