CAMBODIA: Malaysian agency plans to develop large rubber plantations

The Rubber Industry Smallholders' Development Authority (RISDA), which facilitates the Malaysian government's rubber-replanting program, had already established two wholly owned subsidiaries that would manage the plantations, Mohamad Asmizi, assistant director of RISDA's investment division, said.

Asmizi declined to reveal the names of the subsidiaries, but according to Malaysia's Business Times newspaper they are Espek Plantation Sdn Bhd and Risda Plantation Sdn Bhd.

If all goes well, each subsidiary would manage 10,000 hectares of land granted by the Cambodian government, he said.

Asmizi was unsure of the land distribution between rubber and oil-palm cultivation, but said: "Our major crop is rubber.”

The agency's research team had just returned from evaluating Kampong Thom province as a possible site and will present their findings next week, he said.

A local rubber-industry leader said the planned 20,000 hectares represented "a very big investment” that would require 7,000 workers.

"Rubber is a promising industry. I believe it will be one of the economic development strategies for Cambodia,” Men Sopheak, secretary-general of the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia, said. "The return on investment is also good. Rubber prices have increased a lot in the past five or six years because of global demand.”

Source: Daily "The Phom Penh Post", Phom Penh; 28 Feb 2013

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)