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Weather ravages salt production chain

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Farmers have produced around 1,000 tonnes of salt since the beginning of the production season. Heng Chivoan

Weather ravages salt production chain

The Salt Producers Community of Kampot-Kep (SPCKK) announced an indefinite suspension of its operations due to unfavourable weather conditions during the early salt production season.

Salt production season falls between January and May each year.

SPCKK co-president Bun Baraing told The Post on Tuesday that the salt production chain had been greatly impacted by both the weather and a labour shortage.

“We will recover from this and produce in the future. I don’t know when though ... it could be next year or the year after,” said Baraing.

He said salt imports from China and India will not hurt the smaller households that will continue to produce the mineral.

The association’s farmers have produced around 1,000 tonnes of salt since the beginning of production season and currently sell the commodity – exclusively to locals – at around 16,000 riel ($3.94) per 50kg bag, said Baraing.

Ministry of Industry and Handicraft secretary of state and spokesman Um Sotha could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

A ministry official who is not authorised to talk to the media told The Post on Tuesday that the ministry had not received an official letter from the SPCKK.

Last year, the Kingdom imported about 5,000 tonnes of salt from India amid a shortage of stock, Baraing told The Post in November.

In 2018, it planned to import 30,000 tonnes of salt from China but imported just over 10,000 tonnes, SPCKK data shows. In 2009, it purchased 20,000 tonnes of salt from China at $2.2 million.

The Kingdom’s total area under salt production is more than 4,500ha, exclusively in Kampot and Kep provinces, according to the SPCKK. One hectare of salt fields can produce about 20 tonnes of the mineral annually under favourable weather conditions.

Over the last three years, the SPCKK said, production yielded an average of just more than 30,000 tonnes per year, with the local market demanding between 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes per year.

In 2017, production reached 33,000 tonnes, it said. However, the Kingdom did not import salt as stockpiles were deemed to be sufficient that year.

Cambodia’s salt industry generated about $22 million in revenue in 2017, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft data shows.

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