As Cambodia’s rubber export volume increased by almost a quarter last year, the land area for rubber plantations also surged—growing nearly 9 percent, according to figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday.
The total rubber export volume in 2015 reached 124,614 tons, up 24.4 percent from 100,151 tons the year before, with the value of exports falling about 2.5 percent to $150 million, the figures show.
“In the world market, the price has gone down for every rubber-producing country,” said Pol Sokha, director-general of the general directorate of rubber at the Agriculture Ministry. “But our export volume has increased because our land area of rubber plantation has increased too.”
The average price per ton of Cambodia’s rubber dropped 21.6 percent to $1,207 in 2015, while the land area for rubber plantations rose to 389,274 hectares, according to the figures.
Mr. Sokha linked the fall in rubber prices to an abundant supply of the commodity in world markets and “rocky” demand from China and Europe. He was hopeful, however, that global prices would pick up in the third quarter as large rubber producing countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia begin to reduce supply to force prices up —and as economic recovery in the U.S. pushes up demand.
Heng Sreng, managing director of local rubber exporter Long Sreng International, said the low prices had meant his company earned zero profit last year.
“I hope that the price would improve as the big suppliers like Thailand have been reducing exporting significantly,” he said.
Yet some farmers had already begun to grow other crops, according to Chea Sayim, president of the Memot Family Rubber Development Association in Kompong Cham province.
“Currently, I have seen people use the land to grow other plants that are more marketable than rubber, especially pepper,” he said. “I think it is a better choice because the prices of rubber have become cheaper and cheaper.”