Cambodia will hold the Cassava Investment Forum in Pailin city in November to strengthen the development of value-added cassava products and promote the livelihood of cassava farmers, said a top provincial agriculture department official.
“The forum is expected to expand export markets and will showcase cassava and cassava starch as competitive quality products,” said Say Sophat, director of the Pailin provincial agriculture department.
“It [the forum] will also match cassava farmers with exporters so that the farmers would get better prices directly, rather than going through middlemen,” added Mr Sophat.
“We will discuss the strong and weak points in the cassava sector, price and the cassava value chain,” he added.
The Cassava Investment Forum, from November 8 to 10, is organised by Ministry of Commerce, with support from Swisscontact and the UN Development Programme in Cambodia.
It is expected to attract more than 500 participants from farmers to cassava exporters, animal feed producers, investors, government officials, and development partners.
Pen Sovicheat, director-general of the general department of domestic trade at the Commerce Ministry, told Khmer Times that the forum would also expand business networks in the country’s cassava industry.
“It will provide a platform of exchange between domestic and international market actors and the government,” said Mr Sovicheat.
Commenting on strategies to protect the livelihoods of cassava farmers, Mr Sovicheat said: “We would encourage all farmers who grow cassava on four or five hectares of land to come together as a collective to supply purchasers in one area.”
“This is to make the price of raw cassava stable and acceptable to all,” he added.
Last year, total land under cassava cultivation was 684,070 hectares, up 24 percent year on year, from 626,180 hectares and 521,459 hectares in 2015 and 2014 respectively, according to an Agriculture Ministry report.
Dry cassava is priced from 554 to 565 riel (about $0.15) per kilogram and fresh cassava is priced from 170 to 205 riel (about $0.05). Last season it was about 508 riel for the dry version and 136 riel for the fresh one.
There is a lack of processing factories in Cambodia for cassava growers to add value to their exports in the form of semi-processed products like cassava chips and starch. Because of this, Cambodia’s unprocessed cassava exports are just limited to Thailand and Vietnam.