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Pressure to export several food products to China simultaneously

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
A Pailin longan farm in Pailin. It is hoped the sweet fruit can soon be exported to China after mangoes were given the go-ahead. Supplied

Cambodia wants China to have a full fruit package deal in negotiations concerning sanitary and phytosanitary issues to export agricultural products to the Chinese market. However, this is unlikely to happen.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture unveiled a list of agricultural products – fresh mangoes, Pailin pepper, dragon fruit, fragrant coconuts and bird nests – prioritised for the fruit package deals with Chinese authorities. The package, which the ministry said will take a shorter time than doing each product one-by-one.

Thus far, fresh bananas and mangoes are qualified in term of phytosanitary requirements for the Chinese market. For the rest of the prioritised fruit list, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has asked Cambodia to negotiate one-by -one, said Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon.

A Pailin longan farm in Pailin. It is hoped the sweet fruit can soon be exported to China after mangoes were given the go-ahead. Supplied

He said there isn’t sufficient infrastructure investments in the country when it comes to sterilisation facilities. To put it simply, Khon noted, more investments in such facilities are needed.

From now on, Cambodia is able to export mangoes to China, but only Hyundai Agro Co can ship them because this company has already installed the necessary vapour heat treatment and hot water treatments, ensuring pests on the fruits are killed and cleaned. No other companies in Cambodia have yet done this, Minister Sakhon noted.

Cambodia and China initiated the mango negotiations in early 2018. It took almost two years for both sides to sign an agreement on the protocol for the phytosanitary process. The move is paving the way for the fruit to hit the market.

Other fruit will be dealt with similarly when it is wanted for export. Minister Sakhon said his ministry is planning to propose a government financial package in order to loan local investors who want to invest in the infrastructure the necessary cash, while expecting Chinese and other foreign firms to invest in it as well.

“Farmers cannot afford to invest in such infrastructure, so we want farmers to work, through contract farming, along with investors who are able to install the infrastructure. We should also bear in mind that farmers themselves have to ensure their fruits are good enough quality,” he added.

A Pailin longan farm in Pailin. It is hoped the sweet fruit can soon be exported to China after mangoes were given the go-ahead. Supplied

The next potential fruit after mangoes could be Pailin longan, originally known as “Ta Ngen” for direct export to China. Pailin is home to the largest cultivation of the fruit in the Kingdom, currently occupying 3,250 heactares of land with a yield of more than 32,500 tonnes per year. Longan is the third important crop in Pailin province, after cassava and maize.

Minister Sakhon said the ministry is now accelerating work on fruit negotiation with China.

“We have just received preliminary information from the Chinese authorities that it is reviewing the proposed document “and we hope they will respond soon”, he said.

Un Theng, representative of the Pailin Longan Farmers’ Community, said: “We havea market problem because we depend on Thailand. That’s why we proposed to the ministry for the fruit to be exported to China. As far as, I know China will respond late this year as to when the fruit could be exported to the market,” he said.

He added that some Thai merchants buy the fruit from the community in Pailin and export it to China because Thailand has a memorandum of understanding for the fruit to be exported there.

“I do hope that when are allowed to export the fruit directly to China, the price will increase, with 230 households growing it,” Theng said.

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