Corn export price rise aids farmers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Commerce minister Pan Sorasak visits corn farmers in Pailin province in July 2022. COMMERCE MINISTRY

Cambodia's official exports of dried red corn kernels reached 163,673.96 tonnes in the first 11 months of 2022 – down by 8.08 per cent from the 178,069.34 tonnes booked in the same period of 2021 – all of which was shipped to Thailand, Vietnam and China, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The ministry reported that dried red corn kernels represented 3.13 per cent of the total 5,222,056.19 tonnes of official agricultural exports logged for January-November 2022, and that 921.66 tonnes – or just 0.56 per cent – were sold to China. It did not provide separate figures for Vietnam and Thailand.

 

Typically processed as animal feed, red corn is harvested twice a year in Cambodia: once between June and August, and again from October to February of the following year, although exact dates can vary greatly due to weather and field conditions as well as maintenance.

Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout told The Post at the weekend that the province’s red corn kernel exports to Thailand had dipped slightly last year compared to 2021.

On the other hand, farmers’ profit margins improved, as hot demand from Thailand pushed up prices for the grain by roughly 20 per cent year-on-year, he said.

“Regardless of weather conditions or natural disasters, I believe corn will have greater export potential going forward,” Hout said.

Normally, about 80 per cent of the red corn grown in Battambang and other provinces along the Thai border is exported by traders to Thailand, with virtually all of the remainder sold to local animal feed producers, he said.

The Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture reported the 2022 cultivation area of all varieties of corn – red or otherwise – in the province at 116,699ha, of which 5,331ha or 4.57 per cent was materially damaged, compared to the 2021 total area of 53,352ha, with 3,388ha or 6.35 per cent materially damaged.

 

Total corn production in Battambang grew by a massive 127.50 per cent to 649,328 tonnes in 2022, from 285,414 tonnes a year earlier, department statistics indicated.

When asked about the total area under corn cultivation in different localities, Hout was unable to provide any estimates, but rather, he explained that widespread crop rotation with cassava makes obtaining even ballpark figures for any given period rather difficult.

Chan Muoy, the owner of a silo in Battambang’s northwesternmost Sampov Loun district, briefly commented to The Post that corn yields in her area this season have been fairly limited, and that the last of her stock was sold about a month ago. She also confirmed that prices had increased significantly on-year.