Roasted in Vegetable Fat

Angkor Wat, the Tonle Sap Lake and rapid modernisation: these are probably some of the things that come to mind when you think about Cambodia. But travel further east towards Mondulkiri Province and you may discover a different Cambodia altogether. Mondulkiri is Cambodia's largest and also most sparsely populated province, but offers a unique setting for the agriculture sector, and the home to the Mondulkiri coffee beans. The hilly province is located on the country's eastern border, about 370 kilometres from the capital city, Phnom Penh. It boasts scenery and a climate unlike anywhere else in the country. “In the dry season it is a little like Wales with sunshine; in the wet season, like Tasmania with dreadful roads,” is how the authors of the Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia describe the area. At an elevation of 800 metres above sea level, temperatures – particularly at night – are significantly lower in Mondulkiri province. The rust-coloured soil gives the province a distinct look, but also makes it suitable for a multitude of crops, including tropical fruits, rubber, black pepper, cashew, cassava and, of course, Mondulkiri coffee.

Growing coffee in Cambodia

Coffee is grown elsewhere in Cambodia, particularly Kampong Cham, Pailin and Ratanakkiri. But according to Mondulkiri Coffee, one of the two major coffee producers in Cambodia, most of the coffee plants in Cambodia outside of Mondulkiri are the hardier but less prized robusta species Arabica plantations are rarely found outside of Mondulkiri because they require the climate of the highlands to thrive.
“Coffee farmers in these highlands are primarily made up of the indigenous (Bunong) people, whose main economic activity is in agriculture,” the Mondulkiri Coffee website says.
The farmers, who once mainly grew rice, are increasingly shifting to coffee cultivation as Cambodia becomes more of a player in the coffee business. Interest in the sector is also growing among local busin
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