Unusually rainy weather is keeping farmers away from the salt fields and will likely produce a shortage of the commodity, according to representatives of salt associations.
Bun Baraing, executive director of the Salt Association of Kampot and Kep, said unfavourable weather is the country’s south is inhibiting farmers from harvesting salt, adding that production this year will probably not be enough to meet domestic demand.
“We have stopped producing salt already,” said Mr Baraing. “We won’t be able to produce more this year because the rainy season is now beginning.”
“We’ve never seen weather like this,” he lamented, adding that they have collected “nearly nothing” this season due to the adverse weather conditions, and that they will have to rely on 50,000 tonnes of the commodity stored from previous years to feed local demand.
The country’s annual salt requirement is between 80,000 to 10,000 tonnes. Mr Baraing said they will likely have to import salt from overseas to meet that demand.
“We experienced a similar situation back in 2008, but that year we were still able to produce 20,000 tonnes,” Mr Baraing said.
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 with long dry seasons.
Bun Narin, chief technical officer at Kep-Kampot Salt Producers Community and a producer of fleur de sel in Kampot, told Khmer Times that he is concerned about his business.
“We produced much less this year. Fortunately, we still have three tonnes in stock to supply the market,” he said.
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.