Mong Reththy Group has begun carrying out advanced tests on land in Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district for a planned 10,000-hectare sugar plantation.
CPP Senator Mong Reththy said yesterday his company had been in talks with French company Groupe Sucres & Denrees, more commonly known as Sucden, over the prospect of sharing the investment but that no agreement had yet been reached.
“I am going to grow sugar cane in Stung Treng,” Mr Reththy said. “We have started to grow [test] sugar on 50 hectares of land…after growing on just 2 hectares last year.”
Mr Reththy said securing an investment partner would depend on soil tests to produce data on the area’s growing conditions. If results prove encouraging, the total amount of investment for the project, which will include a processing factory, would amount to $100 million, he said.
Mong Reththy Group has already dabbled with entering the sugar industry, though tests growing sugar on 110 hectares of land in Preah Sihanouk province in 2007 showed the soil quality to be too poor.
Alexandra Herbel, general manager at the French Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said that Sucden had not approached the chamber but confirmed that the two firms had entered into negotiations.
She said duty-free access to the European Union market under the Europe’s Everything But Arms initiative was undoubtedly a driving factor behind Mong Reththy’s push into the sugar industry.
“It’s one of the major incentives to producing here,” she said.
Mr Reththy said yesterday that the land in question was barren and would not result in land disputes with locals. In other parts of the country such as Koh Kong province, where CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat grows sugar cane for export to the EU, local villagers say the plantation is grown on land seized from them.
“I have done plantations on hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, and it has never affected the people,” Mr Reththy said.
Siem Pang district governor Sy Suon said yesterday that the land in question was uninhabited.
(Additional reporting by Simon Marks)