Mango exports boom in Cambodia, but farmers face challenges

Fresh mango exports are booming following approval from China, but water issues and market instability are biting.

It’s been three years since the forest was shorn from the hillside to make way for plantation. And yet Prum Ya only received permission this year to begin planting mango trees on 20 hectares of these foothills at the edge of Kirirom National Park, in Kampong Speu province, Cambodia.

Ya, 69, has spent the past 15 years tending mango trees in the southwest corner of Kampong Speu. A farmers’ collective – the Kirirom Keo Romiet Mango Agricultural Community – hires him to take care of 250 hectares of mango plantation in the region, which contain some 40,000 trees, he says. Planting new trees on areas of mountainside such as this latest 20-hectare plot is a strategic choice, as ponds and groundwater remain ample at the base of the mountains inside the protected area.

“Because this area is in the mountains, it attracts [more] rain than other places,” Ya says, though he has still observed changes in the pattern of rainfall here.

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