Ministry to focus on quality, innovation to boost agriculture

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Fresh organic vegetables in a store in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

The government has vowed to boost crop, fish and meat production by prioritizing productivity, quality and innovation in the agriculture sector, the Minister of Agriculture said yesterday.

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Speaking in front of an audience of 400 during the ministry’s annual conference, Minister Veng Sakhon said food crops, fisheries and livestock are some of the main drivers of economic growth in the kingdom, accounting for 58.5, 23.5, and 11.2 percent of the agriculture sector respectively.

According to the Minister, the agriculture industry as a whole made up 24.9 of the nation’s GDP last year.

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He said increasing quality, productivity and food safety should be the aim of officials and the private sector, while modernising the sector’s infrastructure is also paramount, particularly through innovation and bigger investments in research and development.

Another key area of work, he said, should be the development of the country’s agricultural mapping programme, which is still lacking proper guidelines.

Mr Sakhon said they now aim to increase livestock production, both small and large scale operations, by at least 3 percent in the near future, pointing to the need to vaccinate at least 1.75 million cattle and to bring abattoirs to comply with good hygiene practices (GHPs).

Regarding the fishing industry, he said ensuring the sustainability of the sector by pushing for quality and safety is the way forward.

According to Mr Sakhon, subsidiary crop production increased from 10.5 million tonnes in 2013 to 16.3 million last year. In 2017, Cambodia exported 5.1 million tonnes of agricultural products.

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Meat production rose more moderately, from 42.1 million heads in 2016 to 42.8 million last year, with the number of cattle, pigs and chickens used for commercial purposes increasing by 1.7, 3.4 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

In the fishing industry, freshwater catches in 2017 equalled more than 527,000 tonnes, while sea catches surpassed 121,000 tonnes. More than 207,000 tonnes were raised in fish farms.

Sen Sovann, director general of the general directorate of animal health and production, said that with more and more tourists visiting the country every year, demand for high quality meat will continue to rise.

He said the kingdom now raises 2.8 million pigs per year, but internal demand is at 3.3 million, with the difference being imported from neighbouring nations.

“Every day, 1,800 pigs and more than 10,000 chickens enter the country from Thailand and Vietnam. These are just the official numbers; if you count illegal shipments, the figure is probably a lot higher,” he said.

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