Cassava prices in the provinces bordering Thailand and Vietnam increased during the 2020-2021 harvest season as a result of lower crop yields, according to two top provincial commerce officials.

Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout told The Post that cassava exports to Thailand were about 100,000 tonnes in January-February.

The average per-kilogramme price of dried cassava in the province had surged by 200 riel ($0.05) year-on-year to 870 riel, he said, adding that 80 per cent of the province’s production is exported to Thailand.

The recent “floods have led to a decline in cassava yields but improved markets and prices this year”, Hout said.

Cambodia exported 4,200 tonnes of dried cassava to Thailand through Phnom Dey International Checkpoint in Sampov Loun district, Battambang province, with prices in the area at around 800,000 riel per tonne, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released on March 4.

Cassava is typically planted in May and harvested from November until the end of February the following year.

Tbong Khmum provincial Department of Commerce director Toch Sokhon said wholesale per-kilogramme costs for fresh cassava gained 200-360 riel year-on-year on average to 500-600 riel, while dried ones now go for 900 riel, matching prices at the border.

The Kingdom transports an average of 100 lorries-full of cassava per diem to Vietnam during the harvest season when cross-border trade reaches its peak, he said.

“Cassava prices this year are higher due to harvests being lower than last year, while the area under cultivation has also decreased, leading to higher demand,” Sokhon said.

Van Samnang, a cassava farmer in Sandan district’s Tomring commune of Kampong Thom province, said he tallied 10 tonnes as he finished his harvest last week.

He said prices of fresh cassava had been on a steady uptrend, jumping to 490 riel per kilogramme last month from 300 riel just in January.

“I see that this year is a good year for the cassava market, but the yield I harvested is lower than last year,” Samnang admitted.

The Kingdom exported 957,201.56 tonnes of cassava in January-February, of which 154,750 tonnes were fresh, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.

Speaking at the launch of the Draft Law on Cassava National Policy 2020-2025, he said the crop is the Kingdom’s main agro-industrial and export product and contributes three-to-four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

He said the cassava sector receives about $300 million in investment to grow the crop on more than 60,000ha.

In 2019, Cambodia exported about 3.30 million tonnes of fresh cassava, cassava chips and tapioca starch worth more than $26.40 million.