Cambodia Rubber in Demand

Cambodian rubber prices have finally picked up in the international market, pushed by high demand in neighboring countries.

The price of top grade rubber at the Phnom Penh port is about $570 to $580 per ton, up by about $80 from the 1998 price, said Mong Reththy, the country’s largest rubber trader. The up­turn, however, is still lower than the 1997 price of $1,720 per ton, he said.

Mong Reththy cited lower production in neighboring countries for the increase. In Thailand, he said, rising labor costs have forc­ed plantation owners to cut down on the number of employees. In Malaysia many rubber plantations have turned to palm oil production.

Rubber prices in the international market have also increased to $580 from $480 in recent years, said Ly Phalla, director of the Minisstry of Agriculture’s Rubber Department.

He said neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand are de­manding more Cambodian rubber for manufacturing.

“It is a good time for Cam­bodian farmers to plant rubber trees,” Mong Reththy said.

He said 99 percent of the 50,000 tons of rubber produced in Cambodia this year has al­ready been exported. “Cam­bodia needs more rubber to export,” he said.

Encouraged by a favorable international market, the government has given initiatives to farmers to grow rubber trees.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in October gave nearly 3,000 hect­ares of land that had been taken by plantation owners back to 284 nearby families to grow rubber trees, according to Mao Phirun, second deputy governor for Kompong Cham, the country’s major rubber-­producing prov­ince.

More than 100 Kompong Cham families have also turned to rubber production from tobacco growing in recent months after the government started an incentive program for rubber farmers with the French Dev­elopment Agency’s fund, Mao Phirun said.

“If the international market needs more Cambodian rubber, I believe our farmers are happy to grow rubber trees, and they will be better off,” Mao Phirun said.

More than 100 Kompong Cham families also turned to rubber production from tobacco growing after the government started an incentive program with the French Development Agency’s fund, Mao Phirun said.



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