Cambodia and New Zealand have reached a memorandum of understanding aimed at improving agricultural productivity to increase food safety and reduce reliance on imports.
The MoU between Cambodia’s Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon and Ben King, New Zealand’s ambassador to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, was signed on Tuesday.
New Zealand will grant $6.475 million over five years under the scheme to cooperate with local vegetable producers and communities.
“The project will focus on strengthening private sector capacity for local companies producing and supplying organic vegetables in Cambodia and for Agriculture Ministry officials to ensure safe and high-quality vegetable production to supply domestic markets and reduce imports,” wrote Mr Sakhon on his official Facebook page.
Hean Vanhan, director-general of the general directorate of agriculture at the Agriculture Ministry, confirmed the MoU will help the ministry work closely with experts from New Zealand.
“We all know that we import lots of vegetables for local consumption every year. The project will help increase our production by cooperating with local producers and communities to grow safe vegetables to supply the market. This will also help reduce imports,” he said.
Finance Ministry Secretary of State Vongsey Vissoth said earlier this year that Cambodia spends millions of dollars annually on importing vegetables from neighbouring countries.
He warned that vegetables from these countries are often laden with chemicals that are harmful to local people, adding that government has set aside $20 million to set up zoning for growing crops to curb imports, under the Boosting Food Production project.
Chan Sophal, a consultant to the project, said the government will cooperate with farmers in eight provinces as part of the scheme.
According to a research conducted by the Centre for Policy Studies, 200 to 400 tonnes of vegetables are imported daily from neighbouring countries.
The research found that between $150 million and $250 million is spent annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China.