Research continues on a new, higher-yielding Cambodian hybrid red corn variety, CHM02, backed by the South Korean government, to meet demand from export markets and domestic feed producers.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on July 21 discussed the project with the new director of the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA), Song Young-ju, at the ministry, according to a statement posted on the minister’s Facebook page.

The project comes after promising research results on the first hybrid variety, CHM01, which was developed by South Korean experts, and those from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), at the Banteay Dek Agriculture Research Station on a 7ha plot along National Road 1 in Kandal province’s Prek Pol village east of the capital, Song noted in the statement.

He claimed that CHM01 would be competitive with imports, saying that each hectare would yield between nine and 10 tonnes when dried on the cob. Song added that the initial plan was to distribute six tonnes of the variety to farmers in target provinces at 20kg per hectare over 2021-2023.

However, as Nouv Thong, director of the ministry’s Industrial Crop Seed Management Bureau, told The Post, 100ha-worth of CHM01 was distributed last year with 200ha-worth to be rationed out throughout 2022 – accounting for all six tonnes – on the back of growing demand from farmers for the hybrid variety, research on which he said concluded in 2019.

Citing farmers, he said demand was largely driven by CHM01’s high quality and short time to maturity, compared to imported and previously-grown corn varieties.

Thong recapped that corn is a major food staple with more hassle-free market conditions than other crops, and that demand for export and from domestic feed mills is on the rise, while the ministry and KOPIA forge ahead with research on new, better varieties for the Kingdom’s farmers.

Speaking in the July 21 statement, the minister called on the Korean side and GDA to push on with research on CHM02 and CHM03 so as to maximise yields, and invite the private sector to pitch in with resources to ensure the sustainability of the production of seeds and crops of the new hybrid varieties for nationwide supply.

Sakhon also lauded KOPIA for its contributions of training and research pertaining to promising crop varieties that could improve economic prospects for Cambodia’s agricultural and food sectors.

The agriculture ministry recently reported that Cambodia exported 84,898.90 tonnes of corn kernels in the first half of 2022, down by 39.65 per cent year-on-year.

Vietnam was by far the largest market for the kernels during the period, at 76,540 tonnes or about 90 per cent, followed by Thailand (7,500 tonnes), Taiwan (846.60 tonnes) and South Korea (12.30 tonnes).