Cambodian farmers flock to cassava

Cassava farming is quickly expanding in Cambodia, especially in Battambang province as profit margins on the crop continue to rise, local media reported on Friday, citing industry experts and local farmers.

Prices for the plant, which is edible and is used in ethanol production, have risen considerably, fetching more than other cash crops such as cotton that are being grown in the province, Yang Saing Koma, president of Center for Study and Development in  Agriculture was quoted as saying.

“Many people are now investing in cassava, due to the high prices. They also expect to gain more profit from cassava, as yields are more frequent,” the Phnom Penh Post quoted Yang as saying.

“In 2010, the price was 200 to 300 riel a kilogram for cut and dried cassava, but it is reaching 700 to 800 riel a kilogram, due to  increasing demand,” farmer Chim Choeb said.

The ease of growing cassava relative to labor-intensive crops such as cotton has also likely influenced the increase in the annual  crop, Banteay Meancheay province-based cassava broker Malai Trading Company director Som Yen was quoted by the Post as  saying.

The company expects to export 30,000 tons of cassava to Thailand, at 400 riel a kilogram, compared to last year’s  100 to 200 riel a kilogram, Som Yen said, adding that the demand from Thailand and China was driven by ethanol production.

Cambodia’s exports of cassava by volume increased by 74 percent in the first five months of this year compared with the same period of 2010, reaching 212,000 tons so far in 2011, according to the statistics from the Ministry of Commerce’s control  Division.

Revenue also grew, reaching 10.3 million U.S. dollars during that period, up from 4.4 million U.S. dollars in the first five months  of 2010.

Cassava is planted in March or April and harvested from December to February in Cambodia.

The Kingdom produced about 1.3 percent of the world’s cassava in 2009, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Source: Xinhua


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