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Cassava woes still persist

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
Cassava harvests in Banteay Meanchey province have dropped sharply. KT/Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan KT/Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan

Local cassava producers still do not fully understand the process of obtaining a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certification, a necessity for those exporting their produce to Thailand.
Department of Agriculture deputy director-general Hean Vanhan said that there were no barriers for local cassava vendors to export to Thailand apart from them not fully understanding how to get SPS approval.
“When the ministry went to check the situation of the cassava crops, there was no barrier from Thailand. However the private sector doesn’t seem to clearly understand the SPS process, and this slows down the SPS certification,” Mr. Vanhan said.
“Normally those who want to obtain SPS certification have to have their product in hand before applying. But the private sector, it seems, wants to have it before even buying cassava from farmers,” he added.
Pang Vannased, director of the agriculture department in Banteay Meanchey province, also said that exporting to Thailand was easier than before, adding that the market there was favorable for Cambodian cassava vendors.
“The cassava price is still good because yesterday I went to Thmor Pouk, O Chhrav, and Malai districts and I saw Thai merchants purchase cassava from those areas. When I asked about the price, for dried cassava it is from 4.50 to 4.70 Thai baht, which is equal to about 550 riel [$0.15],” he said. “If compared to 2015, the price is almost the same.”
However Sorn Yin, president of Malai Trading, who sells the province’s cassava to Thailand, said that farmers were still struggling to cope with the high levels of debt due to poor harvests.
“Right now, cassava isn’t harvested very much. Harvests will have to wait until January to get into full swing and we are near Thailand so that is our export market,” Mr. Yin said.
“Thailand allows us to export only dry cassava but not fresh ones because they are worried about the price of their own cassava. Thai merchants buy cassava from us then they export directly to China,” he added.
Dry cassava is priced from 554 to 565 riel (about $0.15) per kilogram and fresh cassava is priced from 170 to 205 riel (about $0.05). Last month however, dry cassava sold at approximately 508 riel per kilogram while fresh cassava sold for 136 riel per kilogram, Mr. Yin said.
According to local media reports from August, Thai authorities were tightening border controls by increasing surveillance of agricultural goods and enforcing stricter regulation on SPS protocols.

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