Cassava Exports Drop Sharply in First 8 Months

Cassava exports dropped 56 percent to about 288,000 tons in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to figures released Monday by the Ministry of Commerce, with officials blaming the dip on a surplus in production of the crop in 2011.

“There was an increase in cassava exports in 2012 because there was a cassava surplus in 2011. Now, Thai farmers still have leftover cassava for sale,” said Run Sophanara, chief of the provincial agriculture department’s agronomy office in Banteay Meanchey province, where cassava is primarily produced.

The value of cassava exports from January through August this year also dropped by half, from $35 million in the first eight months of 2012 to $15.1 million this year.

In 2012, cassava exports reached 722,273 tons for the year and were valued at about $38.7 million—an increase of 160 percent over 2011.

Farmers said Monday that the value could decline further, as hundreds of hectares of land continue to be flooded by heavy rains.

“We haven’t started harvesting yet,” said Kuor Song Hing, a cassava farmer in Banteay Meanchey’s Thma Puok district. “We will harvest a lot from January to March.”

Mr. Sophanara said more than 700 hectares of land has flooded so far this year in the province, where 47,000 hectares are used to grow cassava.

Banteay Meanchey is one of eight provinces that has been hit by severe flooding in the past two weeks.

Mr. Song Hing said the price of fresh cassava would likely increase to about $0.08 per kg from $0.04, while the price of dried cassava would increase to more than $0.19 per kg from $0.15.

Cambodian farmers primarily rely on Thailand’s market to export cassava to China.

“Our cassava is exported mainly to China through Thai brokers who come to buy from our farmers. China then uses the cassava to produce animal meals and ethanol,” said Mr. Sophanara.

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