Around 300 Thai citizens forced the closure of a border crossing on Tuesday, blocking attempts by Thai trucks to transport Cambodian cassava from the northern provinces of Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey.
An estimated 3,000 tons of cassava comes each day from the province’s Pouk district, angering Thai farmers, who used mechanical tillers to block the roadway, a Cambodian exporter said.
“The closing of the Boeung Trakuan border checkpoint destroyed our cassava export,” said Choeuv Taov, 56, a member of the Thmor Puak district council and a cassava trader. “Cassava is a very important aspect of Cambodian’s livings in this area. The Cambodian people need to sell their cassava to support their living and to replant on time.”
Local officials say a Cambodian family can earn nearly $1,500 annually from cassava grown on one hectare of land, even though the root sells for just 100 riel, or about 2 cents, per kilogram. Some families own up to 50 hectares of cassava plantation.
Chop Choeun, a 29-year-old cassava farmer with two hectares of land, said the blockade had cost him $440 per hectare.
“I’m very worried about my living,” he said. “I have 30 tons of cassava crop on one hectare.”
Choeuv Taov added, “cassava is very important factor for Cambodians’ living in this area. Cambodian people need to sell their cassava for supporting their living and replanting on time.”
Nou Yoth, chief of the Boeung Trakuan border checkpoint, said district governors on each side were negotiating to solve the problem. Some 200 trucks a day can be counted bring cassava to Thailand from Cambodia, he said.