Cambodia has received a first batch of imported salt from India, after unseasonal rains since the start of the year caused domestic yields to melt below half of expected national demand for 2022.
Salt production reached about 40,000 tons in 2022, compared to more than 75,000 tons in 2021, according to the General Directorate of Small and Medium Enterprises and Handicrafts under the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation.
The coastal provinces of Kampot and Kep are Cambodia’s main salt producers, and the harvest season usually lasts from late December to mid-May, or even into June with warmer and drier conditions.
A ministry official who declined to be named confirmed that the 2022 salt harvesting season ended at the end of May and annual national demand is currently pegged at 90,000-100,000 tonnes.
Speaking to The Post on August 2 from the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), salt industry major player Bun Baraing confirmed that the first batch of “over 4,000 tonnes” of salt he had imported had just arrived at the PPAP, and that “the workers are preparing to store it, so that it is ready to be sold on the market“.
He attributed this year’s woefully insufficient salt production to climate change, noting that the total area allocated to salt production as well as labor-related indicators remained relatively unchanged.
The ministry said the total salt production area in Kampot and Kep provinces was 4,748 ha in 2021, which averages 20 tons per hectare every year in good weather.
Baraing said the government, spurred by the sharp drop in production, recently issued a policy allowing the private sector to import “about 60,000 tonnes” of salt per year to avoid crises due to shortages or surges. uncontrollable commodity prices. .
He shared that for the foreseeable future, the Kingdom plans to import salt exclusively from India, commenting that their product is “natural” and “as good as salt produced in Cambodia”.
Industry Minister Cham Prasidh revealed during a meeting on February 7 that his ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, is preparing a 2022-2026 development strategy for the salt sector, in the aim of developing, managing and conserving the salt marshes of Kampot and Kep provinces, and improving the economic efficiency of salt production.
He stressed that the five-year strategy is designed with policy measures that encourage the production of salt in an “appropriate, transparent and accountable” manner, with a view to ensuring the optimal allocation and distribution of resources with minimum waste. .
One of the main problems to be solved on the ground is the rehabilitation of abandoned or neglected salt fields that remain on the books, he pointed out.
Official figures show that salt production in the Kingdom rose from 80,000 tons in 2013 to 147,000 in 2014 and then to 175,172 in 2015, before falling back to 143,145 tons in 2016.
It then fell to 33,058 tons in 2017. Production fell again in 2018 and then again in 2019. The Ministry of Industry said Cambodia imported about 10,000 tons of salt in 2019. The Post includes that Cambodia has only ever imported salt from India. and mainland China, with the last shipment of the latter arriving in 2018.