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Rain keeping local salt farmers from harvesting

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A local farmer harvesting salt. Supplied

Local farmers believe they won’t be able to produce enough salt this year to meet market demands, with weather conditions in the country being less than favourable, the president of the national salt association said yesterday.

Ly Seng, president of the Cambodian Salt Production Association, told Khmer Times that continuing rains in the kingdom were inhibiting farmers from collecting salt, and that he was unsure how much production will amount to this year due to the adverse weather.

He said salt harvesting campaigns started just yesterday, when normally they start earlier in January, lasting until April.

“We could not collect any salt until now because of the rain. We needed to wait until the weather was more favorable,” he said. “If the weather continues like this, we will not be able to collect enough salt to supply the market.”

Generally, Mr Seng said, the country’s annual salt requirement is between 80,000 to 10,000 tonnes. Anything above that level of production is considered a surplus.

Last year the association produced only 32,000 tonnes, a small figure compared to 2016, when 140,000 tonnes were produced, and 2015, when production amounted to 170,000 tonnes. In both of these years, weather conditions for the production of salt were significantly better, Mr Seng explained, with long dry seasons.

“Total supply for 2017 was actually 90,000 tonnes of salt because we used the surplus from 2016.”

Mr Seng said that the price of premium salt is now about $3 per sack, with second-grade salt selling for $2.4, and third-grade going for $2.2.

There are 50 kilograms in a sack.

“We have about 100,000 tonnes of salt stored from previous years,” Mr Seng said.

Production of fleur de sel will take a serious hit, he said, since it is a derivate of salt.

Bun Narin, a producer of fleur de sel in Kampot, told Khmer Times that he is concerned about his business with production levels for salt being so low this year.

“Without regular salt we cannot produce fleur de sel,” he said. “We need light, warmth and wind for salt, but we are lacking all these elements.”

“We have some fleur de sel in stock, but if there is an order from abroad we won’t be able to meet it.”

Mr Narin said last year he sold about three tonnes of the commodity.

He said he is selling his product for about $15 per kilogram, mostly to local restaurants and hotels.

According to the association, salt harvests are conducted in the coastal provinces of Kep and Kampot, with 4,657 hectares of land used for harvesting the commodity and 200 farmers working on them.

Salt from Kampot and Kep province may attain geographical indication (GI) status in the near future, after producer associations appealed to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to consider initiating the process of applying for the coveted recognition.

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