Cambodia is set to import about 50,000 tonnes of salt to supply domestic demand this year, as its production accounted for only 30 per cent, according to the Salt Producers Community of Kampot-Kep (SPCKK).
This will be the second consecutive year of salt shortages and the third year overall since the Kingdom first imported salt in 2009, from China.
The Kingdom’s total area under salt production is more than 4,500ha, exclusively in Kampot and Kep provinces. This year’s production has yielded a mere 30,000 tonnes, as the local market currently demands between 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes per year.
One hectare of salt fields can produce about 20 tonnes of salt annually, according to SPCKK. Salt production season falls between January and May each year.
SPCKK co-president Bun Baraing told The Post on Thursday that the volume of salt imports this year may be higher than last year.
“Importing salt from abroad is unavoidable this year because as of today, salt stocks have been mostly sold out,” said Baraing, adding that imported salt will be properly tested for quality at a laboratory.
The decline in salt output this year has been caused by two major factors – the weather and the subsequent reduction in the number of producers, he said.
He said more rain in salt production areas in Kampot and Kep provinces this year has caused problems for salt producers.
“If there is no rain during the three-month dry season, Cambodia will not have a salt shortage problem,” he said, citing labour shortages as the main reason for the year to year decline in salt producers.
“Salt production requires patient people and working under the sun. Many salt producers have turned to find another job instead. This is an ongoing challenge,” he said.
The price of salt has remained unchanged from last year at nearly $100 per tonne.
Between 2014 and 2016, Cambodia produced about 100,000 tonnes of salt per year. However, production has fallen for three consecutive years since 2017.
Last year, Cambodia planned to import 30,000 tonnes of salt from China but imported just over 10,000 tonnes. In 2009, it purchased 20,000 tonnes of salt from China at $2.2 million.
Cambodia’s salt industry generated about $22 million in revenue in 2017, according to Ministry of Industry and Handicraft data.
The ministry’s under-secretary of state Son Seng Huot and secretary of state Um Sopha, who oversee the salt industry, declined to comment on the issue.