The private sector experienced a wave of renewed optimism that mango would become a valuable agro-industrial export and prove particularly attractive to investors, after Cambodia on May 7 shipped around 100 tonnes of fresh mangoes to China, in the Kingdom's inaugural direct export of the fruit to the East Asian market.
Cambodia and China jointly hosted a ceremony in Phnom Penh that day, commemorating the historic occasion.
The official export came after the Chinese Customs Administration on April 26 officially approved a list of 37 mango plantations and five packaging factories to export fresh mangoes to China.
Hun Lak, CEO of Rich Farm Asia Co Ltd, a local agricultural investor that grows Keo Romiet mangoes in Kampong Speu province, told The Post that direct exports to China would increase the market potential of the fruit.
With a rapidly-expanding national cultivation area now at around 100,000ha that yield over one million tonnes per season, he predicted a rosy path forward for mango's export potential, which he said would follow a trajectory similar to bananas.
He noted that the five packaging plants approved by the Chinese Customs Administration last month use either hot water treatment (HWT) or vapour heat treatment (VHT) facilities to sterilise their crops and exterminate pests, and have a combined capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year.
"Our company has a vision to develop more facilities in mango plantations to meet the export market. We will set up a drip irrigation system similar to those in banana plantations. We'll also have a plant to clean for packaging and a dried-mango processing plant," Lak said.
Heng Sreng, general manager of Boeung Ket Planting & Industrial Co Ltd, which invests in mango, banana and natural rubber, was also present at the May 7 ceremony. His company provided one of the shipping containers in the Kingdom's maiden direct export of mangoes.
"I am happy that we can export mangoes directly to China, a major market in the region," he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon voiced hope that the export volume of fresh mangoes would continue to increase from year to year.
"Sanitary and phytosanitary measures have been playing an indispensable role as a bridge for agricultural products to foreign markets," he said.
The minister said Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025's main goal is related to the agricultural sector – to boost exports of processed agricultural products to 12 per cent of the total export volume by 2025.
The inaugural shipment of fresh mangoes to China "is another fruitful achievement that was born out of the excellent cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the People's Republic of China", Sakhon said.
According to the protocol on phytosanitary requirements for fresh mango exports to China, signed by the ministry on June 9, the fruits must be of the Keo Romiet variety, the most ubiquitous type found throughout the Kingdom.
Cambodia exported 142,556 tonnes of fresh mangoes in the first four months of 2021, up 239.13 per cent from the same period last year, agriculture ministry statistics show.
As of 2020, mangoes are grown on 130,000ha in the Kingdom, of which 91,104ha (70.08 per cent) are harvested. Mango production reaches an average of more than 1.38 million tonnes per season.