Khmer Fresh Milk Co Ltd, a company behind dairy farm and milk production plant Kirisu, in Takeo province, has started its production despite the challenges of COVID-19.
In the face of difficulties to business and investment across Cambodia brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, local companies continue to invest time and resources in projects that were launched before the virus struck, the company said.
Located 30 kilometres south of Phnom Penh, Kirisu Farm is on a 300-hectare farm lying in a secluded valley in the shadow of Phnom Tamao mountain in Takeo province.
Rithy Chhor, chief executive officer of Khmer Fresh Milk Co Ltd, said that the project has been in development for several years, with plans accelerating at the beginning of 2020 to provide the freshest, purest milk ever available to Cambodian consumers later this year.
“We are very happy that we managed to get these world-class heifers into the country from Australia. It’s great to see how quickly they have settled in Cambodia and how healthy they are. Our farm is built using the most sophisticated technologies,” he said adding that 550 pregnant Holstein heifers arrived from Australia in February, March and April.
“We would like to thank the Royal Government of Cambodia for making it easy for us to bring in heifers from Australia into the country. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been more complicated getting our team of top international dairy farm agronomists and technology experts into the country, but thanks to the government for facilitating visas so that they all arrived in Cambodia on time,” he said.
Khmer Fresh Milk, which operates the farm and the milk processing facility, is a long-term partnership between Singapore-based Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar Development Fund II managed by Emerging Markets Investment Advisers (EMIA), Nexasia, a Japanese fund based in Singapore and the founders group consisting of highly successful Israeli and local Cambodian entrepreneurs.
Khmer Fresh Milk co-founding partner Chy Sila says that despite anxieties about the impact of COVID-19 on the health and prosperity of Cambodia, the team behind the farm never once thought to delay the project’s implementation and is committed to help set a new standard for Cambodian agriculture.
“Kirisu Farm’s long-term vision is to bring world-class dairy and agricultural techniques and food processing to Cambodia and not simply about short term gain. We have brought in sophisticated technologies and we have worked with some of the finest Israeli dairy farm experts and agronomists in the world to help us bring in skills,” he said, adding the investment will bring jobs for the local community that provide some relief from the COVID-19 crisis impact.
Kirisu Farm plans to have its 100 percent pure milk and yoghurt on supermarket and minimart shelves in the next few weeks with wholesale deliveries to restaurants starting even earlier.
Cambodia currently has already two fresh milk producers, Techo Sen Russey Treb Milk, in Preah Vihear province, which has a production capacity of 600-700 litres of fresh milk per day, and the US investor-owned, Moo Moo dairy farm located in Lvea Em district’s Arey Ksat commune in Kandal province, which produces between 1,300-1,500 litres of fresh milk daily.
The companies claimed that locally-produced fresh milk products have already faced challenges of competition from imported products from neighbouring countries.
Sok Touch, president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia and the president of Techo Sen Russey Treb Park, welcomed the investment in the sector, saying that more investments coming in will make prices cheaper for customers.
“We need two or three more companies to invest in dairy farming in Cambodia but the cost of electricity remains a challenge,” he said. “Techo Sen Russey Treb Milk now can produce only 200 litres per day and this amount could not cover the cost while our electricity is too high [750 riel/Kwh] compared with other neighboring countries of 150 riel.”