Salt Yields Hampered By Labour Shortages

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The Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts is holdings discussions with other ministries to find solutions to some of the challenges salt production faces in the Kingdom, particularly a shortage of labour and adverse weather conditions.

A local farmer harvesting salt. Supplied

Ministry spokesman Um Sotha told Khmer Times yesterday that the biggest difficulty for the sector is that its workforce is too small. He said this is the result of uncompetitive wages.

“The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft has talked with different ministries to find ways of increasing the workforce. With the promise of higher salaries in factories, many are choosing to work in manufacturing instead of the salt fields,” Mr Sotha said.

“We are now considering increasing wages and incentives for workers in the sector as a solution,” he added.

Bun Baraing, co-executive director of the Salt Association of Kampot and Kep, said he expects production this year to be insufficient to meet domestic demand and that he hopes the ministry can find a way of boosting the workforce.

“Ministry representatives have discussed the labour shortage issue with us but no solution has been found yet.

“We hope the result will be a better deal for workers,” Mr Baraing said. “Wages in other sectors are higher, so workers and field owners often choose to move to a different industry.”

Mr Baraing said he expects salt yields this year to be below domestic demand.

“I cannot tell you how much we will produce this year, but we are expecting heavy downpours which are likely to affect production. We may have to rely on imports to fill the gap,” Mr Baraing said.

Cambodia consumes 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes of salt annually. Last year, due to heavy rains, Cambodia was unable to meet that demand and imported 30,000 tonnes of the commodity from China and Thailand.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.