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Ministries team up to boost silk industry

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A silk vendor during a trade show shows off her merchandise. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Two government agencies got together to sign an agreement to boost and develop the silk sector in Cambodia.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed this month by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) seeks to boost local raw silk.

This would be done by growing mulberry trees, raising silkworms, equipping the labour force with the skills to produce silk, reduce the reliance on raw silk from foreign countries, and reduce rural poverty.

Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce and chairman of the Cambodia Silk Sector Development and Promotion Commission, said that based on the MoU, the Ministry of Commerce would seek markets, promote Cambodian silk, and offer training and funds to develop Cambodian silk production.

Mr Thora added that the Labour Ministry would be responsible for human resources, sites for growing mulberry trees, and raise the silkworms.

“We (Ministry of Commerce) will seek the markets, promote the Cambodian silk in domestic and international markets, and offer training and funds to the MLVT,” Mr Thora said.

“We acknowledged that the silk sector in Cambodia has been down recently due to the lack of labour in this sector as most of them migrated to work in neighbouring countries and some of them shifted from this sector to the manufacturing and industry sector.

“Therefore, we are cooperating with MLVT to boost this sector and increase human resources for silk production.”

Men Sinoeun, executive director of the Artisans Association of Cambodia, said stakeholders were working hard to boost and promote silk production in Cambodia.

He added that the high season for raw silk was from August to February.

March to July was the lean season which meant that demand for raw silk decreased while the price of raw silk was high.

“In recent years, the import of raw silk from abroad has decreased about 35 percent,” Mr Sinoeun said.

Mr Thora said collaboration with MLVT was the second step to jointly develop and promote the Cambodian silk based on science.

The MLVT and the Cambodia Silk Sector Development and Promotion Commission were trying to make a strong effort to find partners to push Cambodian silk to make it strong like other sectors by promoting Cambodian silk products to the international market to build trust from consumers locally and internationally.

MLVT secretary of state Pich Sophoan said the ministry would select the National Polytechnic Institute of Angkor to be the place for research, growing mulberry trees and raise silkworms.

“We will choose the National Sericulture Centre of the National Polytechnic Institute of Angkor in Siem Reap province to develop local raw silk.

This centre will be the home for displaying modern Khmer silk to boost the silk sector in Cambodia and will make this centre more famous in locally and internationally,” Mr Sophoan said.

Mulberry trees are now a rarity in Cambodia. Most were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era.

Silk weavers in Banteay Meanchey, Kandal, Takeo and Phnom Penh’s main silk producing area of Koh Dach have no choice but to import raw silk from Vietnam or Thailand.

From 2008 to 2013, the demand for raw silk in the country’s cottage silk weaving industry was 300 to 400 tonnes from neighbouring countries while local production was only at a miniscule one metric tonne a year to supply the production, Mr Sinoeun said.

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