With ongoing heavy downpours keeping salt farmers away for the fields, producers associations fear output will be insufficient to meet local demand, and say they are now considering importing from China.
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Salt production this year has been hampered by unfavourable weather conditions, said Bun Baraing, vice-president of the Kampot-Kep Salt Association, explaining that during harvesting season, which runs from January to April, heavy rains meant farmers had to stay home. As a result, output has been disappointing.
“We’ve produced nearly nothing this year because of the rains,” he said.
“We are facing a shortage of salt, and we don’t have enough in stock to compensate,” Mr Baraing said, explaining that the local market currently demands between 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes of the commodity a year.
Mr Baraing, however, was unable to provide exact figures regarding the precise extent of the shortage, as the official report detailing the amount of salt deposits in the country will be released next month.
With a shortage of the precious commodity on the horizon, importing salt from China is now on the table, Mr Baraing said.
“Once we are aware of exactly how much salt we require, we will ask the government to buy salt from China,” he said. “China produces good quality salt, similar to ours.”
“We don’t know the price of Chinese salt yet, we still need to find out,” he added.
Mr Baraing estimates an extra 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes of salt will need to be imported to complement local production.
He said importing from abroad will not be a new occurrence, as the Kingdom already bought salt from abroad once back in 2008.
50 kilograms of salt now fetch 17,000 riel ($4.25) in the local market, according to the association. Salt is farmed in Cambodia from September to April, mostly in the provinces of Kep and Kampot.
There are 4,657 hectares of land used for harvesting the commodity in Cambodia and 200 farmers working on them.