The commerce ministry has asked for its agriculture counterpart’s help in improving the prospects for the red-corn sector by exploring potential ways to, inter alia, convince farmers of the benefits of registering plantations of the crop; better fulfil the needs of the domestic market; and simplify the export procedures to ship the pumpkin-tinted grains abroad, namely to Thailand and China.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on July 19 led a delegation to four of the seven provinces that border Thailand – Pailin, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat – to inquire into the circulation of red corn and the possibility of diversifying its supply chains, his ministry said in a statement later in the day.

Based on observations made during the field visits, Sorasak issued a number of recommendations to ministry director-general for domestic trade Samrith Sakora concerning the challenges confronting red-corn associations and cooperatives as well as those related to silos, to be optimally addressed through cooperation with relevant institutions and partners, the statement said.

The minister stressed the need for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to lend a hand in brainstorming feasible approaches to: informing growers of the benefits of registering red-corn fields; as well as facilitating and expediting the issuance of phytosanitary certification to exporters and silo operators for them to order more product.

Sorasak also asked Sakora to request the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to consider developing a set of measures to ensure that the trucks used by traders to ferry red corn into Thailand are in line with Thai standards, especially during the harvest season between July and August, according to the statement.

Typically processed as animal feed, red corn is harvested twice a year: once between late June and August, and again from late October to February of the following year.

Meanwhile, China Jinkwoayuan Import Export (Cambodia) Co Ltd signed a contract to buy red corn on the cob for 5.7 baht (15.54 US cents) per kilogramme at 30 per cent moisture, and 5.8 baht at 29 per cent moisture. The commerce ministry’s business registry lists an address in China’s Chongqing municipality for the company’s “chairman of the board of directors”, whose name is given as “Pu Jianfei”.

In response to the commerce ministry’s requests, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on July 20 that there would be “no problem” in informing farmers about the benefits of registering red-corn plantations, and noted that phytosanitary verification processes are running normally for requesting exporters and silo operators that deal in the grain.

He said that year-to-July 19, Cambodia has exported “more than 120,000 tonnes” of red corn to Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan, with orders from mainland China in the pipeline.

“I do not think there’ll be any major problems for our corn products because [Bangkok-based conglomerate] CP and some other animal feed companies have signed contracts to buy red corn in our country,” Sakhon said.

According to the commerce ministry, the current area under red-corn cultivation is about 145,983ha, in provinces such as Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Pursat, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng and Kandal.

Cambodia exports red corn to markets such as Thailand and Vietnam, as well as to further destinations like South Korea and Bangladesh via neighbouring countries, the ministry says.