The Minister of Agriculture on Tuesday stressed the need to boost local agricultural production and increase quality.
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Speaking at the 20th-anniversary celebration of Heifer International Cambodia, Minister Veng Sakhon said local production of vegetables and meat has increased in recent years but lamented that the quality is still deficient.
Mr Sakhon urged vegetable and meat producers to up quality standards so that more Cambodian goods can be shipped and consumed overseas.
The minister said the government aims to have more Cambodia goods sold in international markets, particularly vegetables, fruits, and meat.
“Cambodia has great potential in agriculture,” he said. “Local agricultural production has increased significantly, but we need to continue expanding it while increasing quality so that we can reduce imports and start exporting more,” he said.
According to Mr Sakhon, last year Cambodia exported 4.26 million tonnes of agricultural goods, 200 tonnes of which were vegetables.
Keo Keang, Heifer International country director, discussed the impact higher production levels have had on farmers’ livelihoods.
“Due to better capacity, production has increased remarkably, which has boosted farmers’ incomes,” Ms Keang said.
Ms Keang advised farmers to adopt advance farming techniques and equipment to increase production and revenue even further.
Heifer International Cambodia works in 14 provinces, benefiting 1 million people. It focuses on providing technical assistance to agricultural communities that produce vegetables, fruits, and meat.
Ieng Sotheara, founder of Khmer Organic Cooperative, also highlighted the need to reduce agricultural imports, arguing that vegetables from abroad are often less safe to consume due to the use of pesticides.
“Importing vegetables and fruits from abroad is not just bad for the local economy. It can also be a risk to consumers’ health as many of these imported products often contain a lot of chemicals,” Mr Sotheara said.
Minister Sakhon stressed the need to diversify agricultural production and add value to local goods.
“Modern mapping techniques can help us find the areas in the country that are most suitable for certain crops, which will help us maximise yields,” he said. “This is an important part of diversifying agricultural production, which can help us boost production and revenue.”
In an effort to facilitate exports of agricultural goods, Mr Sakhon said the government is working to create the necessary infrastructure and lower electricity tariffs.