The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries yesterday launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan to develop farming and push the agriculture sector to modernise, become more competitive and resilient to climate change and, in particular, to move on from labour-intensive traditional practices.
The plan for 2019 and 2023 reflects government policy on developing agriculture alongside the ongoing development of society and the economy in Cambodia.
Veng Sakhon, minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said at the launch ceremony that the strategy provides an important roadmap to enhance farming and its products and the way they are delivered to consumers.
The government wants to upgrade agriculture from traditional practices to an advanced agribusiness, enhancing productivity, diversifying potential crops and meeting market needs, Sakhon said, adding it would take into consideration, sustainability, globalisation and modern technology.
Through the strategic plan, the ministry urges the creation of agricultural cooperatives and wants farmers to cooperate with the private sector under an agricultural public-private partnership involving contract farming to ensure sufficient supplies, available markets and stable prices, Mr Sakhon empasised in the plan.
“The ministry is pushing, supporting and encouraging the private sector, SMEs [small and medium enterprises] and development partners to invest in the processing sector to ensure sustainable, local productivity, stable markets and value-added products while promoting quality, sanitation and safety standards in order to comply with the demands of domestic and international markets,” he added.
Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Association of Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, said that 95 percent of SMEs in the country are working directly with related agricultural products.
“Our country is an agricultural country so we want products from farms processed into food. If we process agricultural products into food… We can promote their quality in being processed domestically,” Taing said.
Currently, the amount of finished products Cambodia imports is about $6 to $7 billion, according to Taing.
Speaking at a news conference last week, Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said he supported the mechanism of contract farming which helps farmers and agricultural cooperatives with promised markets and stable prices.
“The CRF encourages farmers to form agricultural cooperatives and work with contract farming groups to aid exporters and processors to maintain markets,” Mr Saran said.
In contract farming, buyers sign agreements with farmers for the production and supply of crops to be delivered at a future date, usually at predetermined volumes, qualities and prices.