A government ministry has reassured the public that there is no need to panic over potential food shortages amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to local media, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Veng Sakhon declared that Cambodia has abundant supplies of staples such as rice, meat, vegetables and fish to meet demand within the country.
“In terms of food security in Cambodia, there should be no concern. We have enough rice in stock, pig farming can produce up to 80 percent of meat supplies and both the fishing industry and vegetable production industry are supplying normally so, all in all, our agriculture sector is working well,” Veng said.
Part of this positive outlook is down to a pig supply shortage before the virus outbreak, according to Srun Pov, president of the Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association. He told Khmer Times that Cambodia had imported around 2,000 pigs from Thailand to fulfill additional demand.
Cambodia’s annual demand for meat from pigs is around 2.9 million a year and Srun explained that supply for domestic consumption is currently stable because events like wedding and religious ceremonies, coupled with demand from the tourism sector have tapered off dramatically.
Livestock supplies increased by 37 percent in 2019 compared with 2018 and meat supplies have increased from 209,000 tonnes in 2015 up to 239,000 tonnes in 2019.
In terms of rice stock, official figures show that in 2019, the total yield was 10.88 million tonnes, with surplus of 5.76 million tonnes once both domestic and international needs were met.
Total crop production, including bananas, cassava and sugar cane, totalled 16 million in 2019 and just under half of that volume was exported.
Both natural and farmed fish supplies also increased in 2019. Some 908,000 tonnes were available for consumption in 2019, representing a 21 percent climb on 2018.
However, Tong Chantheang, executive director of the Cambodia Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), told Khmer Times that she foresees the usual vegetable shortage the country faces every year during the rainy season.
“During the dry season, there is an abundant supply of vegetables, but in April and May, the supply will be lower. This is when we have to rely on imported produce to meet demand, making up a shortfall of around 50 percent,” she said.
Still, there is no reason to panic, she added, saying, “Some vegetables only take up to three weeks to grow and harvest, so it is not a big challenge. We are not concerned.”