At the beginning of the century, Cambodia became well known among planters for the red color of its soil. Later, with the development of rubber plantations, it quickly received the name “rubber country”, a raw material also known as “white gold”.
After decades of isolation and devastation because of the civil war, the nation was reunited under the monarchy in 1993. Cambodia then experienced unprecedented economic development and recorded the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia. This was mainly due to the textile industry, tourism and international aid. At the same time, the country specialized in fishing, forestry and agriculture, a sector that still employs nearly 58% of the workforce today.
Despite the conflicts, rubber cultivation has remained highly significant through the decades. Cambodia produced no less than 190 000 tons of rubber in 2017 and 220 000 tons is forecast for 2018.
In recent years, the rubber industry’s economic drive has slightly lost momentum due to a decrease in global prices. Nevertheless, exports have shown steady growth for two reasons:
Vast areas have been planted in recent years;
The trees have matured over the years.
As an important catalyst for development in remote areas, rubber cultivation enables the production of pure green energy: natural rubber is a substitute for synthetic rubber (a petroleum distillation product) and serves as a significant carbon sink.