The government is to set up a national cassava policy and will soon establish a steering committee to boost the production chain, seek new markets, attract investment in cassava processing and promote the livelihood of cassava farmers.
Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said yesterday that the Ministry of Commerce, development partners and stakeholders were considering developing a policy that aims to leverage national efforts to address priorities in the cassava sector.
He said that the national cassava policy should be seen as a guiding document on how to ensure sustainable and resilient crop production, how to upgrade and strengthen cassava value chains, and how to convert market access into market presence.
“We need a system and a mechanism to help smallholder farmers, and at the same time push for large scale cassava production,” he added.
“This policy will boost the livelihood of people as we process the cassava so that farmers will have value added products,” he said.
There is a lack of processing factories in Cambodia for cassava growers to add value to their exports in the form of semi-processed products like cassava chips and starch. Because of this, Cambodia’s unprocessed cassava exports are just limited to Thailand and Vietnam.
Mr Sorasak said the ministry was setting up a steering committee to oversee the national cassava policy formulation and implementation.
The minister added that the steering committee would bring together various interests to ensure relevance and meaningful development of the cassava sector.
Nick Beresford, country director of the UN Development Programme in Cambodia, said strengthening and retaining national research and development capacity appears to be “one of the timeliest and critical need for the Cambodia cassava sector”.
“However, as well all know, research and development by itself will not increase yield, and will not have any impact until the new varieties and technologies are developed and adopted by farmers.”