In an effort to increase agricultural production and raise living standards for farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture is prioritising the creation of agricultural communities throughout the nation.
In 2017, there were 880 agricultural communities across the country, of which, Takeo province had 100, Battambang 77, and Kampong Thom 55.
Up to 89,474 farmers are involved in agricultural communities in the kingdom, according to ministry figures.
Agricultural communities boost cooperation among farmers and make it easier to find buyers for their products, said Hean Vanhan, director-general of the ministry’s general directorate of agriculture.
In Cambodia, these communities operate under contract farming models, planting, among other crops, rice, pepper, cashew and cassava, according to Mr Vanhan.
“Working together, they have a stronger bargaining position in negotiations with buyers.”
Provincial and capital agricultural departments provide assistance to these communities to smooth out the transition of living in a community and working together, Mr Vanhan explained.
“We guide them on how to manage their agricultural work as a group, including planting and finding markets. We also conduct studies to determine what crops grow best in their area.
“We help them meet traders who want to partner with them.”
Contract farming benefits both farmers and traders, Mr Vanhan explained.
“Farmers can plant crops according to the season with peace of mind because they know they will sell their products at prices that have been negotiated beforehand. For traders, on the other hand, contract farming guarantees a certain supply of the products they want.
“Agricultural communities empower farmers and aid the development of the nation.”
Khy Maly, sales and export manager at Amru Rice, said she supported the government’s push to increase the number of agricultural communities in the country.
She said working with communities of farmers makes it easy to implement contract farming schemes, which boost quality standards and guarantee that the production is sold.
“By working with agricultural communities, we can guarantee the quality of agricultural products, because we provide technical assistance and guidance to farmers,” Ms Maly said. “Farmers, on the other hand, are guaranteed that they will be able to sell their products at reasonable prices.”
In Preah Vihear province, Amru Rice’s works with 6,000 farmers that are members of agricultural communities. The company works with 3,000 farmers in agricultural communities in other provinces.
According to Ms Maly, they now work with rice, pepper and cassava, but they are planning to expand into new products, including certain vegetables and fruits.