Phan Davy, a corn merchant, says she buys at least 300 tons of corn per month from Cambodia’s remote northwest and imports it to Phnom Penh.
“It’s good business, but it is hard to collect when you buy from remote areas, the forest or former Khmer Rouge zones,” she said.
Despite the difficulties, these areas—Pailin, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces—continue to serve as the center of production for Cambodia and the region, exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Thailand and Phnom Penh.
And this year, with other parts of the country losing their corn to flooding, corn from the northwest has become even more market dominant—and more expensive.
Merchants say the price of corn is slightly higher this year than last year because very little corn now comes from Kompong Cham or Kandal provinces, as it did in the past.
“Farmers have stopped planting it there because the flooding in those areas has destroyed the corn for years,” said Chhum Ratha, assistant for the receiving department at the CP Cambodia Co mill near Phnom Penh, which buys 10,000 to 15,000 tons a year.
Last year, corn was 410 to 420 riel per kilogram. This year, it is 435 to 475 riel per kilogram, Chhum Ratha said.
“It is good that the price is higher. It will give the farmers a better life, encourage them to plant more and give work to more people,” he said.
Phan Davy said the price increase has been good for her business.
“I like this business. It’s given me good profits for three years. It’s a long trip to follow the trucks that load the corn all the way to Phnom Penh to sell it at the factory, but I have never wanted to do anything else,” she said.
Phan Davy hires workers to buy the corn in the field, usually in Pailin. Malai, in Banteay Meanchey province, and Sambov Loun district, Battambang province, are also well-known for their corn.