Now that the deal allowing for the export of mangoes to mainland China is bearing fruit, Cambodian officials are eying the possibility of capitalising on China’s appetite for dragon fruit. After a dip in 2020, fresh dragon fruit exports to China grew by 77 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021. It was the sixth most popular fruit import last quarter, with a value of $165 million, according to official Chinese figures.
Yaing Siang Koma, founder of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, has already committed to helping grow 1 million dragon fruit trees on 1,000 hectares of land in Sambor Neak, Preah Vihear province, to supply the international market. Koma believes that the project will eventually create 3,000 to 10,000 jobs locally.
Koma believes that Cambodia could profit significantly from the increased demand in China. Last year, neighbouring Vietnam exported more than $1 billion of dragon fruit to the Chinese market despite a drop in demand in China. Demand is expected to rise post-COVID. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, 80 percent of dragon fruit from the country is sent to China and 99 percent of all dragon fruit sold in China is from Vietnam, where it is not popular.
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