Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cambodian gov’t touts organics to increase rice export

August 21, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — Cambodian agriculture officials said that shifting to chemical-free fertilizers could triple farmers’ rice yields and produce more profitable crops at a time when the country’s rice exports are on the rise, local newspaper the Phnom Penh Post reported Thursday.

“Rice grown with natural fertilizers is easier to produce and more profitable than rice grown with chemical fertilizers,” Khem Chenda, director of the administrative affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, was quoted as saying.

Farmers using chemical fertilizers pay about 35 U.S. dollars to70 U.S. dollars per 50kg bag, and their yields sell about 250 U.S. dollars per ton on the international market, Khem Chenda said.

But they face numerous health problems from prolonged exposure to chemicals, ranging from skin irritations to lung cancer, he added.

However, organic fertilizers will increase the quality and quantity of paddy yields and for a cheaper price, said Chan Vannak, general manager of the Bayon Heritage Holding Group.

Organics cost 27 U.S. dollars per 50kg bag and crops sell for 300 U.S. dollars per ton, Chan Vannak said.

The Bayon Heritage Holding Group imports organics from Japan for resale in Cambodia, he said, adding that he has already sold about 500 tons.

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