Rains, Unpredictable Climate Put Damper on Palm Sugar Production

2 min read
A worker on a palm tree. (Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association)
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Palm sugar production is barely meeting half of this year’s target output because of early rains and unpredictable weather, an industry association said.

Sam Saroeun, the president of the Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association, said Tuesday that market demand was high but farmers’ production had decreased this year amid an irregular climate.

Heavy rains have been falling across the country ahead of the typical monsoon season.

“When there is rain water in the palm juice, the sugar is not good,” Saroeun said. “Production for the international market is not enough. They ordered 150 tons but we can produce only around 70 to 80 tons.”

Fifty families produced for the association, mostly in Odong district but also in Samraong Tong. Kampong Speu sugar has E.U. recognition as geographically indicated, and is the only province that exports palm sugar.

The families export to 18 countries, including France and the U.S., with orders rising from 80 tons last year to 150 tons this year, Saroeun said.

Families could earn thousands of dollars each harvest, which lasts around four months a year, he said. “They feel regret when the money is in front of them but they can’t get it.”

Oum Rina, director of the Water Resources Ministry’s meteorology department, said this year was La Nina, and more rain for longer was expected. Cambodia would likely have more rainfall throughout the wet season, he said.

“In August, September or October, we could face a high risk of flooding from rain,” he said.

Overall, the wet weather had filled reservoirs and should help farmers despite some downsides, he said. Cambodia has seen drought and record-low river water levels over the past few years.

“There are more favorable than negative impacts,” he said.

An Chankomar, general manager of Khmer Farmer Garden in Phnom Penh, said Kampong Speu palm sugar was growing in popularity locally, and mostly came in during the dry season.

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