Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Cambodia To Prioritize Diversification of Agricultural Promotion To Meet Market Demand

Farmer Choeun Tithya posted a photo on his Facebook page showing his curly cabbages, which are in season but have no market.
Farmer Choeun Tithya posted a photo on his Facebook page showing his curly cabbages, which are in season but have no market.

Prime Minister Hun Manet said in order to enhance the agriculture sector, Cambodia needs to diversify its agriculture promotion and maintain the market, as farmers face unstable market prices.

During the 19th National Fish Day celebration in Kampong Cham province on Monday, Hun Manet said promotion diversity must meet the demand of both domestic and international markets. 

To achieve this, the government should address farmers’ production cost by reducing import duties on agricultural machinery and introducing appropriate solutions.

“Promoting agriculture is about diversification,” he said. “Choosing between animal husbandry or crops is one thing, but there must be a market for both domestic and international markets to safeguard our farmers.”

Hun Manet pointed out there are two main goals for the development of the agricultural sector, which are food security and trade.

“Solving agricultural problems [means] thinking about the income of farmers. It should also make sure that prices are not too high, as could impact [domestic] buyers,” he added. 

The issue about the farmers and buyers is that the government should ensure a balance between farmers’ incomes and living standards or inflation.

Thus, the government would work on this by issuing interventional policies to help farmers secure more markets. In addition, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) have been instructed to intervene in areas where water for irrigation is scarce. 

In 2023, Cambodia exported more than 8.8 million tons of agricultural products to 78 countries valued at $4.8 billion, which has contributed significantly to the economy.

Meanwhile, Choeun Tithya, a farmer who grows curly cabbage in Takeo province, posted on his Facebook page that his produce risks being destroyed without buyers. He was currently selling them for only 300 to 400 riel per kilogram.

Tithya told CamboJA News that the decline in cabbage prices was due to the lack of a market (strategy) as farmers all harvested at the same time, and there were “no traders (customers) who came to buy”.

“The price drops once or twice a year […] this year, it dropped twice – once in the middle of May, and again at the end of June,” he said, adding that before the price contracted, he could sell between 2,000 and 4,000 riel per kilogram.

He said the relevant ministries have been informed about this issue, but there is no solution yet because the problem is caused by the planting of the “same vegetables at the same time”. 

“As growers, we know that when we plant [the same products] at the same time and harvest at the same time, it will become cheaper,” he added.

Suon Thai, a mango farmer in Kampot province, told CamboJA News that during the mango harvesting season in April and May, mango prices will drop sharply to about 300 riel per kilogram. Currently, farmers do not have mangoes to sell, thus pushing the price up by 4,000 riel per kilogram.

“Mango season is worthless […] it’s only 200 to 300 riel per kilogram, now they say it’s 4,000 riel per kilogram, according to the buyers. This month, the mangoes are gone with only a few left,” he said, adding that he spent a lot of money planting them, but the profit was lower than the labor cost.

“I request MAFF to help farmers get at least 1,000 riel per kilogram,” said Thai, hoping that agricultural products would populate the market after the Prime Minister’s call to enhance the agricultural market.

Oum Sophea, president of the Samaki Dambe farming community, told CamboJA News that farmers’ agricultural products do not have a specific average market price, which means mangoes are sold at the lowest price. 

“Mangoes always have a market but the main problem is that the price does not cover the cost of production,” he said. 

He expressed satisfaction that the government reduced the import duties on agricultural fertilizers and machinery. Following that, he urged fertilizer traders or companies to lower the price. 

The current price of fertilizer was about $50 per bag, “which is still high for farmers” as the price of agricultural products were still low.

“I would be pleased if the government has a mechanism to reduce the duties on imported agricultural fertilizers and equipment to lower the costs so that we are able to compete in a free market,” he added. 

Khim Finan, MAFF spokesperson, said the Prime Minister’s remarks reflected the priorities in the sector that are being implemented, especially ensuring price stability, sending out commune agriculture officials and establishing a modern agricultural community. 

“These priority policy programs are designed to address the challenges and increase the competitiveness of Cambodian agricultural products including production costs, standards, quality and stability of supply, [which are] aimed towards processing [agricultural products] for export and improving farmers’ livelihoods,” he said. 

He did not respond to questions about the pricing and market strategy of cabbage production.