Cambodia has asked Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan to invest in Cambodia by setting up a plant generating ethanol fuel from cassava.
Establishing an ethanol processing plant would benefit cassava farmers who were seeking to expand their markets, said Dith Tina, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“We want the company to conduct a feasibility study to establish a plant in Cambodia producing ethanol because the country is rich in cassava as a raw material,” Mr Tina said.
He said that on Tuesday he met with a delegation from Idemitsu Kosan led by its director-general of new and renewable energy Takatoshi Suzuki.
The company was studying the project and would take action soon.
“Our main purpose in attracting the Japanese company to set up an ethanol fuel processing plant is to help cassava farmers get better value for their harvests,” said Mr Tina.
“It is also a kind of renewable energy that is kind to the environment.”
Mr Tina said it would take time for an ethanol plant to get off the ground. In the meantime the company was seeking to buy cassava from Cambodia for its ethanol plant in Thailand.
Cassava farmers have been disappointed by low harvest prices. Most of their produce is exported to Vietnam and Thailand due to the lack of a processing plant in the country.
Hun Lyhoeun, director of Drycorpkh Cambodia, a cassava trading company in Battambang province, applauded to the plan, saying it would help keep the market stable and deliver an acceptable price for farmers.
Mr Lyhoeun said farmers were always disappointed with the low prices when they sold to traders in Thailand and Vietnam.
In 2015, high profile luxury timber exporter Try Pheap reached an agreement with Thai firm Ubon Biro Ethanol to buy cassava in Cambodia for its refinery in Ubon Ratchathani province in Thailand.
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