Cambodia hopes to start exporting longan to Thailand in the near future, with the two countries planning to sign an agreement on phytosanitary requirements.
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Longan is poised to become the second agricultural product officially exported to Thailand following mango.
Ly Sereivuth, chief of the plant quarantine office at the General Directorate of Agriculture, said Friday that work on phytosanitary technical documents is being conducted.
“We are now preparing the technical documents to meet phytosanitary requirements in the Thai market, and we expect to complete this work soon,” Mr Sereivuth said during a workshop on phytosanitary procedures for export, import, and the transit of agriculture goods.
“At the present stage, we are conducting laboratory tests to identify pests that affect the crop.
“Once this work is completed, we will send our results to Thai authorities to be reviewed,” he said, adding that after the review, Thai experts will visit Cambodian farms to conduct inspections.
Once inspections conclude, the two parties will sign a protocol on phytosanitary requirements, paving the way for the first shipment of Cambodian longan to Thailand, according to Mr Sereivuth.
According to the General Department of Agriculture, longan plantations are found all across the country, covering 8,816 hectares. In 2018, yields amounted to 19,218 tonnes.
Battambang, Pailin, and Kampot are the biggest producers with yearly yields of 7,776, 7,735, and 1,496 tonnes, respectively.
Un Theng, representative of an agricultural community in Pailin province, said the fruit is grown across the province, with annual yields of 7,000 tonnes.
He said the fruit now fetches from 4,000 riel ($1) to 5,000 riel ($1.25) per kilogram, adding that it is mostly bought on-site by visiting Thai merchants.
“We asked the General Department of Agriculture to conduct work on phytosanitary requirements so that the fruit can be exported legally to Thailand.”
However, even after the countries sign the protocol, Mr Theng said exporting the fruit will be troublesome.
“The General Department of Agriculture would likely require that we have a certificate for every shipment. However, we export the fruit on a daily basis and cannot wait to obtain the certificate because then the fruit could spoil,” he said.
“We want to be able to ship as much as we want with just one certificate,” he said.
He noted that a Chinese company is now building a longan processing and treatment factory in the province.
“As far as I know, the company will purchase our longan. We will be able to choose: we can sell to the Thais or to the Chinese,” he said, adding that the factory is now 80 percent complete.
According to the General Department of Agriculture, last year Cambodia exported 4.5 million tonnes of agriculture goods – mostly rice, rubber, and cassava – to 80 countries.