With local farmers and exporters now able to meet strict sanitary standards, the governments of Cambodia and China yesterday signed a deal that allows the shipment of Cambodian bananas to the biggest market in the world.
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The two countries have been negotiating over the shipment of bananas for the last three years, with the Chinese side repeatedly refusing to buy Cambodian bananas on the basis that Cambodian producers and exporters were not able to meet China’s strict sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.
The agreement yesterday, in which China acknowledged that local farmers are ready to comply with its requirements, follows years of guidance and training by Cambodian officials to local farmers and exporters to bump up the quality of locally-grown produce.
After yesterday’s agreement, the first shipment of Cambodian bananas to China is expected for next year, according to Hean Vanhan, director of the General Directorate of Agriculture.
The deal was signed by Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Xiong Bo.
“To implement the agreement, the Cambodian and the Chinese governments will guide farmers in complying with Chinese requirements,” Mr Sakhon said.
Ambassador Xiong said the agreement is another achievement made possible by a closer relation between the governments in Beijing and Phnom Penh.
He said he was happy Chinese people will finally get to taste Cambodian fruits.
There are now three banana farms in the country, covering more than 5,000 hectares in Ratanakkiri, Kratie and Kampot, according to Mr Vanhan.
Local banana plantations can produce up to 30,000 tonnes of the fruit a year, he said.
Robin Chen, deputy general manager at Green Island Agricultural Development (Cambodia) Ltd, a banana and pepper farm in Kratie, said he plans to sell his fruits to the Chinese.
“We are happy about the recently signed agreement, as it will allow us to export to China for the first time. It will be great for our sales,” Mr Chen said.
Cambodia plans to negotiate with China on the shipment of other agricultural products, including mango, longan, durian, dragon fruit, pepper, and coconut.