Green Leader Holdings Group Limited, a Hong Kong-based investment holding firm, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Agriculture, agreeing to invest in local cassava plantations and set up 20 plants to process cassava starch for export.
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In the next three years, 10 plants will be raised with a capital investment of $150 to $200 million. They will be built in Tboung Khum, Kratie and Stung Treng, among other provinces, according to Michael Tse, Green Leader’s CEO.
Each plant will have a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of cassava starch per year.
“We are signing this MoU because we see great potential in the cassava sector,” Mr Tse said. “14 million tonnes of cassava are produced each year. We will utilise this raw material and process it into a product ready for the consumer.
“As per the MoU, the Ministry of Agriculture will help us find the site for the factories.
“They will also support us in making sure we get all the raw material that we need from farmers that will be working under contract farming schemes,” he said, adding that the ministry will also help them set up a research and development centre to study the crop because “planting cassava with the right species, techniques and fertilizers can be challenging”.
Green Leader is targeting China as their main export market, but will also consider EU, South Korea, Japan and the US as possible buyers, Mr Tse said.
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said that, in addition to cassava starch, each factory will also produce 50,000 tonnes per year of cassava-based animal feed. The waste product will be used for biomass energy, he said.
Yim Chhayly, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Cambodian Agricultural and Rural Development Council, welcomed the MOU, saying that Cambodia suffers from a lack of processing factories in the cassava sector.
“Currently we export most of the cassava we grow because we can’t process it here. The earlier we get this factories, the better,” Mr Chhayly said.
90 percent of all cassava grown in the country is shipped to Thailand and Vietnam to be processed.
Cambodia now has 700,000 hectares for the cultivation of cassava.