Cambodia will be able to supply sufficient salt for the domestic market this year, said Salt Producers Community of Kampot-Kep (SPCKK) co-president Bun Baraing.
He said the favourable weather has led to an increase in production over last year’s harvest season. Estimates show that yields were around 70,000 tonnes as of mid-April, which translates to about 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s total annual domestic demand.
“This year, we’ll produce more salt than the last couple of years as we have been able to harvest from January due to a lack of rain.
“The exact figures will be tallied in June as salt collection is ongoing,” he said, adding that salt farmers are currently able to fetch 15,000 riel ($3.75) per 50kg bag – a similar rate to last year.
“If we see that there is a lack of salt when we compile our report, we will ask for approval in principle from the government to import the commodity, but we hope to not come out short this year,” he said.
Cambodian salt production is only available in Kampot and Kep provinces, and the harvest usually begins from mid-January to the end of April each year.
The two provinces have 4,748 of salt fields with each hectare producing an average of 20 tonnes per year. The average salt demand in the Kingdom is between 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes per year, SPCKK data shows.
Salt production in the provinces soared from 80,000 tonnes in 2013 to 147,000 in 2014 and then to 175,172 in 2015, before slowing down to 143,145 tonnes in 2016 and then to a dismal 33,058 in 2017.
Over the past three years, the output has averaged just more than 30,000 tonnes per year, the data shows.
Last year, the government allowed the SPCKK to import 30,000 tonnes of salt from China and Thailand to meet domestic demand, said a Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation report.
It cited a number of issues that continue to plague salt farming, such as lower wages compared to other industries, which caused its total workforce to fall to 5,000 last year, it said.
Second, a number of salt producers have sought to convert agricultural land into residential, commercial and tourism land.
Third, it said irregular rainfall is a major concern as it disrupts the supply chain.