Battambang business turning crops into health supplements

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Seng Samnang, executive director of MLH Handicrafts. MLH

In Cambodian households and plantations, the cultivation of general crops such as bananas, galangals, ginger and curcuma raktakanta is a common practice. Besides serving as a tradition, growing these crops also helps reduce expenses, decrease imports and promote public health.

A handicraft shop located in O’Char commune’s Ong village of Battambang town has taken the initiative to process a variety of crops into health aid powder, which is currently in high demand. This endeavour not only improves the livelihoods of community farmers but also contributes to the wellbeing of consumers.

Seng Samnang, the manager of MLH Handicraft shop, established the business in early February 2021 after experiencing stomach and intestinal health issues. Despite trying various medicines without success, she found relief after consuming banana powder.

“Banana powder was very effective in relieving my stomach upset. As a result, we started producing the powder initially for our family’s online sales,” she explained.

Witnessing the prevalence of stomach and intestinal problems among others, Samnang decided to expand production to help more individuals improve their health. Instead of relying on medicine, the shop produces natural nutrient-rich powders from crops.

Samnang emphasised that her business aims to encourage women and youth to explore their creativity, engage in processing activities and contribute to society’s wellbeing by offering natural nutritional products. By sourcing raw materials from farmers in Sangke and Samlot districts, the shop plays a role in supporting local farmers and creating employment opportunities for women in the community. Approximately 80 per cent of the shop’s members are women.

With increased promotion efforts, the business has garnered attention and support. In addition to banana powder, the shop continues to process other products such as health turmeric powder, curcuma raktakanta powder, galangal powder, fingerroot powder, ginger honey tea, as well as new items like black sesame oil, baby banana powder and ointments.

Although the products are naturally processed, the production process involves meticulous attention to detail. Samnang described the nine stages involved in producing banana powder, which include peeling, washing, grinding, sifting, mashing the flour, and packaging. The shop sells hundreds of cans of flour each month, with prices ranging from $8 for a 300g can to $15 for a 500g can.

Despite the current success, the business owner intends to expand further. For instance, she sold her products at the Morodok Techo National Stadium during the 32nd SEA Games and hopes to gain more recognition from the public and attract new customers.

During the 32nd SEA Games, the National Committee for the Promotion of the One Village One Product exhibited 45 Cambodian-made products. Suong Noy, the secretary-general of the committee, highlighted the importance of showcasing domestic products to enhance Cambodia’s reputation and gain recognition from national and international visitors attending the event.

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