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A Look into Cambodia’s Agricultural Future: Interview with Mr. Lee Chang Hoon, Managing Director of Hyundai Agro Cambodia Co., Ltd.

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Mr. Lee Chang Hoon, Managing Director of Hyundai Agro Cambodia Co., Ltd.

Introduction of Hyundai Agro Co., Ltd. and its current operation

We are a local subsidiary of ‘Hyundai Corporation Holdings’ and were established in Cambodia in 2015 in order to facilitate crop cultivation and distribution in Cambodia. Our parent company, ‘Hyundai Cooperation Holdings’, carries out business licensing and food related businesses such as crop cultivation and livestock product distribution in many countries. ‘Hyundai Cooperation Holdings’ deems Cambodia as a strategic partner of their agricultural business.

Hyundai Agro’s main achievements and its contribution to Cambodia’s agricultural sector

We set up our mango farm – Hyundai Arirang Farm – in Kampong Speu province, and are directly managing its mango production from beginning to end. We host seminars three to four times a year, where local farmers can learn Korean cultivation techniques and how to use pesticides or fertilisers safely. I am proud to describe our farm as a ‘standard mango farm’, as was praised by Mr. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, for our safe and healthy production process.

Moreover, through our foundation of the first modernised agricultural products quarantine facility in Cambodia, we paved the way for Cambodian mangoes to be exported not only to Korea but also to other countries. Through the global network of ‘Hyundai Corporation Holdings,’ Cambodia’s high-quality agricultural products are starting to be recognised around the world.

What plans does Hyundai Agro have to overcome difficulties caused by COVID-19?

The reduction of flights due to COVID-19 caused the downsizing of export of fresh farm products. However, we are adapting to this new-normal by increasing the preservation period through our ‘Post-Harvest Technique’. Using this technique, we have successfully kept our products fresh for over 15 days in a ship. We look forward to expanding fresh food exports via this mechanism in the future, as well as actively considering investing in dried food products.

What changes and developments need to be made for future Cambodia-ROK agricultural cooperation?

In the short term, we hope that the Cambodia-ROK FTA will lower tariffs between Korea and Cambodia. When exporting mangoes to Korea, the current tariff imposed by the Korean government is 24 percent. Should tariffs be lowered through the FTA, Korean customers could enjoy excellent Cambodian products at a lower price.

In the long term, Cambodia-ROK agricultural cooperation will need to develop into more advanced sectors. Up until now, Korea’s agricultural investment in Cambodia was mainly focused on rice farms, cassava, mango or basic infrastructures such as rice mills. There needs to be more investment in high-tech agricultural facilities such as advanced slaughtering facilities, poultry facilities, greenhouses, and agricultural food manufacturing plants. Korean government should actively provide the technologies and facilities, while Cambodian government offers various investment attractions.

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