Phnom Penh Post, WEDNESDAY, 20 JANUARY 2010 15:01 CHUN SOPHAL
MONG Riththy Group is preparing to put “cleaner” charcoal on the domestic market after a US$10 million investment, its president told the Post Tuesday.
In the coming two weeks, the company is set to introduce between 250 and 1,000 tonnes of Acacia charcoal on the domestic market each month at a price of 1,200 riels (US$0.30) per kilogram, said Mong Riththy.
The special charcoal is thought to be cleaner than the domestic charcoal used normally, as it burns at a high heat and does not produce as much smoke as other varieties.
It has been produced using wood from Acacia trees planted in 2005 on 3,200 hectares of land in the Keo Phos area of Stueng Hav district, Preah Sihanouk province, Mong Riththy said.
“We hope that our company will be successful in putting its clean charcoal into the market because the product is easy to use, burns well, and does not affect the health of users,” he explained Tuesday.
He added that a grinding plant and 50 charcoal kilns have been built to process the wood, which is mixed with palm oil shells to produce the charcoal.
Mong Riththy said he hopes to encourage people to grow Acacia trees to avoid cutting down the Kingdom’s natural forests. One hectare of the crop, which takes five years to mature, could earn about $500 per year, he added.
Government officials welcomed the move to produce cleaner fuel.
Ty Sokun, director general of the Department of Forestry Administration, said Tuesday that people throughout the country cut down around 3.5 million tonnes of wood to use as cooking charcoal each year.
According to a report from the Department of Forest Administration, 70 percent of the firewood people use to cook in Cambodia is cut from natural forest. The other 30 percent is cut from fruit trees.
“We believe that it is a good idea to produce clean charcoal because it will help reduce the demand for firewood from natural forests,” said Ty Sokun.