The government has officially launched its new strategy for the cassava industry, which aims to position Cambodia as a reliable supplier of cassava-based products to the global market, according to a high-ranking government official.
Speaking at the launch of the national policy for the cassava industry in Phnom Penh yesterday, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said the new strategy covers five years, from 2018 and 2022, and aims to make Cambodia a home for cassava processing industries.
“It also promotes the use of cassava by-products and residues from animal feed and fertilizers as cheap materials for Cambodian farmers,” said Mr Sorasak.
The new policy will help transform the cassava sector, from subsistence agriculture to commercial production, while prioritising improving living standards for farmers, he said.
“Commercial production will also enhance the capacity for these farmers to generate income in the context of price volatility, sustainable land use and climate-smart agriculture.
“The policy will support active processing factories and attract investment to produce value-added cassava-based products to supply diverse markets,” he said.
The minister explained that the new strategy will also enhance trade competitiveness by turning market access to market presence, improving trade facilitation and reducing trade-related costs.
“A series of trade-related reforms are continuously implemented to remove unnecessary costs, maintain key advantages, improve trade facilitation and develop additional value to enhance sector competitiveness.
“The cassava that we have now is just the raw material. We have to push for more processing factories to create more value added products.
“This policy will encourage more investment, and it will push the price of cassava and boost the living standards of the farmers as Cambodia has about 90,000 families who produce cassava,” Mr Sorasak said.
In Cambodia, Cassava is cultivated in 13 provinces, with more than 570,000 hectares that yield around 13 million tonnes of produce a year.
Richard Marshall, an economist at the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia (UNDP), said UNDP has worked with the Cambodian government to draft the cassava sector development policy.
The aim is to move Cambodia up the value chain by improving the quality of cassava production and boosting reliability.
“The policy aims to transform cassava into a profitable crop for smallholder farmers and the source of industrial development for Cambodia,” Mr Marshall said.
“To begin the transformation process, the commercialisation of cassava production and agri-business development should be done simultaneously to enhance the crops in other areas of the world,” he said.
Ek Sun Sokha, president of Long & Sokha Import Export, a local exporter of cassava chips and powder to Vietnam and China, said with the release of this policy there is now a clear road map to boost the sector.
He said that the challenges in the cassava sector are the lack of processing plants to produce cassava powder, a not so reliable transportation system, the price of electricity and the lack of communication between farmers and exporters.