Locally produced organic coffee has seen a significant rise in demand followed by a 50 percent increase of land under cultivation in 2018 mostly due to the shifting taste buds among citizens in Phnom Penh, said officials on Friday.
“The land under coffee cultivation has increased (by 50 percent) because the demand has also increased along with the good price on the market,” Seng Se, bureau chief of the Department of Agriculture said, citing the current $2.5 per kilo for normal coffee sold at farms compared to $1 per kilo in the previous years.
“With high demand, the Mondulkiri province will see an increase in the cultivation of coffee in the years to come,” Mr Se said during a media tour of coffee plantations in the province.
Leading a group of 15 journalists to farms last week, Tong Chan Theang, executive director of Cambodia Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), said Phnom Penh has seen an increasing trend in coffee drinking.
“This has boosted the opportunity for organic coffee penetration, with health and environment gaining priority among coffee lovers,” she said.
Figures provided by the provincial agriculture department of Mondulkiri show 206 hectares of land under coffee plantation of which 132 hectares belong to companies and the rest are run by farmers.
Covering 48 hectares of land, a group of 40 farmers who are getting technical support from CEDAC in Mondulkiri are producing 22 tonnes of organic coffee which are supplied to the market by Timor, a company dealing in contract farming.
“We buy from farmers; process them at our factory before sending them to markets in Phnom Penh. We now have coffee shops as our partners as well as natural product markets.
“We focus on organic products because the neighboring countries produce coffee using chemical fertilizers. We want to help farmers by guaranteeing markets for them. The organic standard is the way to help them with a sustainable market,” said Yos Chentha, managing director of Timor.
Started last year, the project aims to encourage farmers to produce coffee with organic standards, said Ms Chan Theang.
“Currently we work with 40 farmers in Mondulkiri province to provide technical support in following CEDAC’s organic standards,” Ms Chan Theang said, adding that, “To give assurance to the market, we want farmers to continue their traditional farming of coffee with the additional practice of organic standards.”
There is no specific data on coffee consumption in Cambodia, but what is certain is Cambodia imports coffee beans mainly from Vietnam and Laos.
Besides Mondulkiri province, CEDAC is also working with vegetable and fruit farmers in Kampong Speu and Koh Kong province based on the same model of organic farming.