Feature: Chinese market brings "spring" to Cambodian banana plantations


A worker wraps bananas at the Green Island Agricultural Development (Cambodia) Ltd. in Kratie province, Cambodia, July 17, 2020.  (Xinhua/Mao Pengfei)

As lush banana plantations in Northeast Cambodia's Kratie province enter harvest season, tractors, carrying bunches of just-picked bananas to an adjacent packaging factory, have been rumbling across the orchards these days.

Dozens of skilled Cambodian workers have been working together to clean, trim, weigh, inspect, and package these bananas. They would be sent to cold storage as soon as possible and then delivered to Chinese consumers through the cold-chain logistics system.

In May 2019, Cambodian bananas were directly exported to China for the first time. This move not only enriches the fruit basket of Chinese consumers, but also brings "spring" to the Cambodian banana industry.

Cambodia exported a total of 130,000 tons of bananas to China in 2019, and industry insiders predicted that the number could exceed 300,000 tons this year.

Located in Kratie Province, the Green Island Agricultural Development (Cambodia) Ltd. was one of the first companies approved to export bananas to China.

The company's general manager, Gao Guanhua, told reporters that the Cambodia-China Tropical Eco-Agriculture Cooperative Demonstration Zone built by the company has a total area of more than 13,000 hectares, and so far, 1,500 hectares have been planted with bananas, rubber, teak, pepper, and mango, among other tropical crops.

Gao added that since 2016, the company has cooperated with the Hainan Provincial Department of Agriculture in building a demonstration base for the banana industry in Cambodia.

Nowadays, supporting enterprises such as a nursery garden, an organic fertilizer plant, packaging factories and cold chain logistics enterprise have all been established, he said.

Standing in front of the fertilizer plant in the zone, one can feel "rich smell" even without entering it.

The organic fertilizer factory's manager Yang Feng said the factory has two production lines and can now produce about 10,000 tons of organic fertilizer a month. "All materials are local, turning waste into wealth. Our production capacity will continue to increase, to meet the need of fast expanding banana plantations."

Chen Qisheng, general manager of China Certification & Inspection Group (CCIC)-Cambodia, which provides pre-shipment inspection, certification and traceability services for agricultural products exported to China, has frequently visited the plantations, to inspect and monitor production situation and procedures.

Walking in the banana plantation, Chen told reporters that Cambodia's fertile land with sufficient sunshine and rainfall is suitable for large-scale banana planting.

"Today, the number of Cambodian banana planting enterprises that have been approved to export to China has increased to 15, with a planting area of more than 24,000 hectares, and they are still expanding," he said.

"Cambodian bananas are sweet and soft, and are very popular among Chinese consumers," Chen said. "Chinese market has become an important driving force for the development of Cambodia's banana industry."

This year, China's National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival are being celebrated together during an eight-day holiday, which has greatly boosted the consumer market.

Gao is very optimistic about the prospect of the Chinese market. He said autumn and winter are important consumption seasons for bananas, with the peak around the Spring Festival. "I believe that sales of Cambodian bananas to China will increase significantly. We will strive to meet the need of Chinese consumers," he said. (written by Mao Pengfei, Nguon Sovan)

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