In an effort to ensure compliance with sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards in the Chinese market, the Ministry of Agriculture will send teams to registered banana farms to conduct on-site checks.
The announcement of these inspections follow a statement by the ministry in August urging farmers, owners and exporters to register with the ministry to gain access to technical assistance that will help them achieve compliance with SPS (Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Standards) requirements demanded by Chinese buyers.
Ker Monthivuth, director of the plant protection, sanitary and phyto-sanitary department, told Khmer Times the inspections will be conducted in two rounds. First, a team made up of local officials will visit the farms, followed by a group of Chinese experts.
“We are going to conduct evaluations of the registered farms … and we will send our findings to China so that they can also send officials to conduct their own inspections,” Mr Monthivuth said.
So far, five banana farms have registered with the ministry, Mr Monthivuth said, although he did not reveal their names. Cambodia and China reached a protocol on the exportation of bananas in August, effectively allowing Cambodia to ship the fruit to China. The agreement came after the two sides spent years negotiating on the issue.
Hun Lak, director of Longmate – a Chinese-Cambodian joint venture that expects to send a shipment of bananas to China early next year – said Longmate’s farm is ready to welcome the inspection teams.
“We are ready for the inspection by the local experts and the Chinese officials. We are certain we will pass because we have prepared well following all the guidelines mentioned in the SPS protocol,” Mr Lak said.
Covering 1,000 hectares of land in Kampot province’s Chhouk district, the Longmate farm is capable of producing 30,000 tonnes of bananas a year, according to Mr Lak, who added that the company is also eyeing other foreign markets.
Bananas will become the fourth agricultural product that Cambodia exports to the Chinese market, together with maize, cassava, and milled rice.