Land used in Cambodia to plant subsidiary crops increased by 9,000 hectares last year, reaching a total of 35,415 hectares, according to a recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture, with officials hailing the hike as an important step in reducing vegetable imports.
Currently, Cambodian imports about half of all the vegetable it consumes. A key point in the government’s strategy for the sector is to reduce those imports and boost local production.
The term subsidiary crops generally refers to non-major crops. In Cambodia, they include certain vegetables and fruits.
The expansion of the total land area used for subsidiary crops is a sign that the government’s strategy to reduce imports and boost local production is working, said Ho Puthea, director of the horticulture and subsidiary crops department.
“If the number of plantations grow, so will total production, which will result in less imports,” Mr Puthea said, adding that government-led initiatives in the sector have also helped advance farmers’ skills and improved irrigation systems.
The government recently began using spatial information technology to map agricultural zones in a bid to boost agricultural yields and reduce imports.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced recently the selection of a number of crops that will be planted as part of the new mapping project. They are upland rice, floating rice, cashew, pepper, corn, mango, durian and carrots.
According to government officials, by mid-March the project will yield results regarding the areas best suited to grow the chosen crops.
In 2016, market demand for vegetables reached 930,000 tonnes per year, with local producers able to supply only 420,000 tonnes.
To fill the gap, Cambodia had to import 50 percent of the vegetables it consumed during that year.