Fresh chilli exports ratchet up 95% in first five months
Cambodia exported 56,507.12 tonnes of fresh chillies to overseas markets in the first five months of 2021, an increase of 94.86 per cent compared to the same period in 2020, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.
During the period, Thailand bought all but 2kg of Cambodia’s fresh chilli exports, which went to the UAE, the minister said, adding that Cambodia also exported about 600 tonnes of dried chillies to Thailand in January-May, a decrease of 50 per cent year-on-year.
Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout told The Post on June 8 that its proximity to Thailand makes the province the largest chilli market in Cambodia, despite not having the largest cultivation area.
He said heightened demand in Thailand had significantly driven up the number of applications for chilli export permits to the neighbouring country early this year.
He ascribed this uptick in demand to two factors – transport barriers and dwindling imports from a post-coup Myanmar, as well as “clearer” monitoring and documentation of Cambodian exports.
“Since the beginning of the year, the number of CO [certificate of origin] requests for chilli exports at the Battambang provincial commerce department has increased significantly,” Hout said, adding that prices for fresh chillies had logged “slight increases” compared to the beginning of 2020.
Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Chhim Vachira said the cultivation area and yields of chillies in the province early this year were similar to 2020 levels.
The area in the province under chilli cultivation is “between 580 and 1,100ha”, Vachira said, adding that one hectare yields an average of 3.5 tonnes per year. Chillies bear fruit 50-60 days after planting, he said.
Part of the harvest is sold for consumption in the province, and the rest is exported to Thailand, he said. “Chillies are in a strong market position due to the high demand from Thailand.”
He said almost all crops had seen an increased cultivation area in Battambang since last year, with many parcels of vacant land being turned into gardens.
Meas Sophal, owner of chilli plantations in Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Kampong Chhnang provinces and trader who used to buy the pungent fruit from farmers to dry for export to China, previously said Covid-19 had kept potential Chinese buyers from inspecting his product, forcing him to give up that part of the trade.
“Since the beginning of last year, I have not exported dried chillies to China as I used to,” he said.
The Kingdom exported 70,546 tonnes of fresh chillies last year, an increase of 27.08 per cent from 55,513 tonnes in 2019, according to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data.