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Chilli exports up nearly 50%

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The Kingdom exported 67,547.34 tonnes of chillies in January-July. SUPPLIED

Chilli exports up nearly 50%

Cambodia exported 67,547.34 tonnes of chillies in the first seven months of 2021, an increase of nearly 50 per cent year-on-year, according to the General Directorate of Agriculture.

During the period, the Kingdom shipped 66,227.12 tonnes of fresh chilli to Thailand, up 46 per cent year-on-year, and 0.002 tonnes to the UAE, according to the directorate’s National Phytosanitary Database.

And 1,320.22 tonnes of dried chilli were sold to Thailand, up 10.02 per cent, 0.21 tonnes to Belgium and 0.01 tonnes to Canada.

Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout told The Post that the price of fresh chilli in the province had seen a slight year-on-year increase to 5,000 riel ($1.23) per kg.

He said output had increased 10-20 per cent year-on-year on the back of a surge in area cultivated under chilli cultivation, but noted that yields in the province are not very remarkable.

“Although Battambang is not a place where lots of chillies are grown, a report on applications for certificates of origin – to export fresh chillies to Thailand through Battambang – from the beginning of the year to date accounts for almost 40,000 tonnes,” he said.

He underscored that chillies have always had a strong export market and that cultivation is showing positive signs. “Senior officials and officials of the commerce department always try to facilitate the export of all products – not just to promote production and cultivation, but also to bring income to the nation.”

Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture official Heng Sithy noted that chillies tend to be grown together with other vegetables on the same space, which makes it cumbersome to estimate the total cultivation area.

But he confidently asserted that the total area of vegetables grown in the province had seen a marked increase since the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries launched a strategy to boost and promote the cultivation of agricultural products.

Most chilli plants are grown near bodies of water in the dry season, and they produce ripe fruit around two and a half months after sowing, according to Sithy. “Chillies are primarily grown in Battambang to meet demand for consumption in the province, and the little that is left over is exported.”

Without providing specific figures, he said shipments of chillies to Thailand via Battambang had seen sizable jumps year-on-year.

Battambang borders Thailand’s Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces.

Pailin provincial Department of Agriculture director Say Sophat claimed that chilli cultivation in the Kingdom had been on the rise, noting the absence of official statistics.

He ascribed the trend to two main factors – an increase in domestic demand and a hike in export prices.

Stressing that Thailand is a big buyer of Cambodian chillies, he noted that chilli prices fluctuate largely based on Thai demand. “Chillies can be considered to be a high-demand agricultural product in Thailand,” Sophat said.

Cambodian exports of non-rice agricultural products in the first seven months of this year were valued at $2.37378 billion, according to the ministry.

Last year, the Kingdom shipped 70,546 tonnes of fresh chillies abroad, an increase of 27.08 per cent from 55,513 tonnes in 2019.

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