Cambodia produced 7.4 million tonnes of paddy rice in 2018, a 3.5 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s annual report.
In its report, the ministry said total production in 2018 was only 88.47 percent of what the government expected, adding that 2.4 million hectares were harvested out of 2.7 million hectares of available agricultural land.
On average, each hectare produced 3.07 tonnes of rice, the report says, noting that in 2006 the average yield was only 2.6 tonnes.
The report shows that 96 percent of the land was cultivated using machinery, while livestock was used in only 3.5 percent of land.
“Hoping to help hard-working farmers during the wet season, the ministry also rolled out initiatives to provide technical assistance for the benefit of farmers dealing with natural disasters and pests,” the report reads.
Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, said yield increases were made possible by better irrigation systems and the use of technology. He noted that the government has accelerated work on identifying the best areas to grow each variety, which also played a role in boosting yields.
“Officials are studying what environment and conditions are best for each rice variety so that we can maximise yields and quality, as well as resilience to disease and climate change,” Mr Sakhon said.
Chim Yoab, a rice farmer in Takeo province’s Bati district, told Khmer Times that she is able to harvest rice twice a year – in the wet and in the dry season – because she enjoys access to irrigation.
“Yields are quite irregular,” she explains. “When it rains a lot yields are very high, but during droughts, they are significantly lower.”
On average, she produces three to four tonnes of rice per hectare, she added.
Last year, total exports of milled rice decreased by 1.5 percent, reaching only 626,225 tonnes, which were sent to 61 different countries around the world. China was the biggest buyer, importing 170,154 tonnes.