A Chinese government delegation is visiting Cambodia this week to study cassava production and prepare an agreement with the government to establish quality and sanitation standards for the export of cassava to China, an official said yesterday.
Preap Visarto, acting director of crop protection at the Agriculture Ministry, said three Chinese officials were inspecting cassava plantations in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Kompong Cham provinces this week.
Last month Cambodia and China signed an agreement to establish quality and sanitation standards for the export of Cambodian rice to China. The Chinese market had so far been closed to Cambodian rice, but it remained unclear how strong Chinese demand for Cambodian rice would be.
Mr Visarto said after their field study the delegation would prepare a memorandum of understanding with the government regarding the quality, food safety and sanitation standards for cassava exports to China, which then could be signed by government leaders.
“Chinese experts come to see all cassava plantations and processing, and they evaluate it before they prepare technical documents…for ministers of both countries to sign,” he said.
“We need to find markets [for cassava] in China because it is very large,” Mr Visarto said. “The Chinese are interested in cassava, we hope they will allow the export of our cassava into China.”
Officials have said a deal for exporting cassava to China could be a boon for farmers, who produce more than 3 million tons of cassava annually, as cassava prices in China were more than 50 percent higher than prices offered to farmers by Thai and Vietnamese traders.
Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture director Yang Saing Koma welcomed development of the trade agreement for the crop, which is mostly cultivated in Pailin, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Kompong Cham provinces.
“We can have a bigger market. In theory it can also contribute to a higher price,” he said.
Banteay Meanchey governor Ung Oeun said the potential export agreement would help farmers in his province.
“It would encourage farmers to better grow cassava because the price is higher, farmers…would no longer worry about price fluctuations like before,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)