Due to the early start of the rainy season, salt production in Cambodia has been cut in half, forcing the country to import nearly 60,000 tons of salt from China to cover this year’s demand, officials said Sunday.
The first consignment of 10,000 tons from China is expected to arrive at Preah Sihanouk Provincial Port at the end of July and will be stored in large warehouses in the province, said Tong Khloeng, an official at the Salt Producing Community, an independent body of salt farmers in Kampot and Kep provinces. With added import expenses, the price for 50 kg of Chinese salt will cost 25,000 riel, as opposed to the 20,000 riel charged for 50 kg of Cambodia-produced salt.
“We will store it in Preah Sihanouk province and if the current warehouse is not enough we will hire more because during these few months salt usage is little,” Mr Khloeng said. “We will import salt every month.”
The consumption of salt in Cambodia greatly increases during November and December when people use it to make prahok, a pungent fish-paste favorite, making it important to stockpile salt now, he added.
Salt producers in Kampot and Kep have been unable to produce enough salt because they do not have access to modern technology, which will make the harvesting of salt less dependent on rainfall and weather, said Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khun Huor.
In 2006, Cambodia produced over 220,000 tons of salt, which covered the local demand and also allowed for some export, he said, but new technology is now needed if producers want to meet local demand.
“When rain comes early it is harmful for salt producing, but when rain starts late it is bad for rice growing,” Mr Huor said.
Mr Khloeng agreed that more advanced equipment is needed but said is not possible until the producers get more funding.