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New fertiliser venture aims to satisfy growing demand

A farmer waters his crops on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in June 2013.
A farmer waters his crops on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in June 2013. Vireak Mai

New fertiliser venture aims to satisfy growing demand

Fertiliser manufacturer Nangoku Agriculture Development, a Japanese-Cambodian joint venture, launched operations yesterday with the aim of supplying locally manufactured fertilisers to Cambodian farmers at affordable prices.

Cambodia’s Bayon Heritage Holding Group Co Ltd holds a 60-percent stake in the $2.2-million joint venture with partner Japanese feed and fertiliser producer Nangoku Kosan Co Ltd.

Chan Sokheang, CEO of Bayon Heritage Holding, said yesterday that the company has built a fertiliser plant on three hectares of land next to National Road 4 in Kandal province. The factory will produce up to 30,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser during its first year of operation, and has the potential for further expansion.

He said Bayon has imported fertiliser from Nangoku Kosan for re-packaging and distribution in the local Cambodian market since 2007. The decision to invest in a local production facility came after observing the steadily growing demand for fertiliser in the market, where a 50-kilo bag fetches a relatively high $25 on average.

“We will still continue to produce the same type of fertilisers at the same price as what we import from Japan,” Sokheang said. “In addition, we will produce additional types of fertilisers that are suitable for the various crops that farmers grow to provide them with more choices, and we will sell this fertiliser at lower prices.”

He added that the new types of fertilisers could sell for as little as $15 per 50-kilo bag.

Sokheang said initially 85 percent of the materials would be imported from Japan, but in the future the factory’s products would include more local content.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia imported some 570,000 tonnes of fertilisers during the first half of the year, roughly equalling its imports for the whole of 2015. The actual import total could be twice as high if unofficial exchanges along the border are included.

Fertiliser products from Vietnam make up about 60 per cent of all imports, with Thailand accounting for about a third.

The high demand has prompted companies to build fertiliser plants in Cambodia, with Taiwan Fertiliser Company unveiling plans in late 2015 for a large production unit in Preah Sihanouk province with 90,000-tonne annual capacity.

Vietnam’s Five Star International, meanwhile, operates a massive fertiliser plant in Kandal province capable of producing 350,000 tonnes per year.

Mak Soeun, director of the department of agricultural extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, welcomed the prospect of a new fertiliser plant.

“We believe that more producers in the market will help to improve the quality and lower the cost of fertilisers,” he said. “Then farmers will be able to plant crops at a lower price.”

Yang Saing Koma, founder of the agricultural organisation Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), also welcomed the new Cambodian-Japanese initiative, pointing out that the factory will utilise more local raw materials and improve the overall quality of fertilisers on the market.

However, he encouraged farmers to use “natural” fertilisers, such as manure and animal waste from households.

“We want to see our farmers produce the fertiliser by themselves to reduce the use of factory fertiliser,” he said. “We don’t want farmers to spend so much money buying fertiliser.”

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