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Hopes for potato farming in the Kingdom running high

After determining the best provinces in the country to grow potatoes, Cambodian scientists are now working to figure out what varieties adapt best to the local soil and will have the highest yields.

Initial tests conducted by scientists at the Potato Research Institute, a centre in the Royal University of Agriculture, suggest that Mondulkiri, Pursat and Battambang provinces have the right soil and climate conditions for growing the crop.

Song Kheang, the director of Mondulkiri’s agriculture department, said further testing is needed before proceeding to plant the crop, however.

“We are still conducting tests. We have one more round of tests before we can claim that the province is suitable for farming potatoes,” Mr Kheang said.

“After three initial testing phases, we can say the soil in the province is suitable for potatoes, but there are still some problems, so we need to keep testing,” Mr Kheang said.

He refused to go into detail regarding the nature of those problems.

“Our potatoes will sell very well in Phnom Penh. Cambodia now imports a lot of potatoes from abroad, but we will soon begin producing ourselves which means we will reduce our reliance on imports,” Mr Kheang added.

In Pursat, the results of initial testing have also been encouraging.

Lay Piseth, head of Pursat’s agricultural department, said they are now working on selecting the best varieties that can be grown in the province.

“A Korean firm has been conducting tests for farming potatoes here with positive results. We still want to carry out some more tests to determine the best varieties,” he said.

Mr Piseth acknowledged that the potatoes yielded by the tests were smaller in size than imported varieties.

Cambodia now imports more than 5,000 tonnes of potatoes every year from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Australia and the US, according to the Potato Research Institute.