New Zealand is to provide $5 million to support the sustainable development of horticulture over a five-year period in Cambodia, New Zealand’s foreign minister Gerry Brownlee announced on Monday.
New Zealand and Cambodia will soon sign a partnership arrangement in Phnom Penh to launch the initiative, according to Mr Brownlee who was quoted in a New Zealand government press release.
He said that that the Cambodia Quality Horticulture Initiative will help Cambodian farmers increase their income by diversifying into more sustainable crops that will in turn improve production and food safety.
“As in New Zealand, horticulture is essential to the Cambodian economy,” Mr Brownlee said.
He said that as part of the initiative, New Zealand Crown Research Institute Plant & Food Research would provide Cambodia with the technical expertise to support the sustainable production and distribution of produce to markets.
“The initiative will work closely with local partners that are supporting and sourcing produce from smallholder farmers.”
According to the press release, New Zealand has significant experience developing profitable horticulture supply chains, world-class food safety standards and robust quality assurance measures.
Ho Puthea, director of horticulture and subsidiary crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, confirmed the project but said there was no official notification yet on the start date.
However, he added, the final project documents would be signed soon between Cambodia and New Zealand.
“We at the Agriculture Ministry will play a role as the project’s facilitator. The key player in the supply chain is the private sector and that includes Natural Garden, Eco-Agri Centre and other relevant stakeholders,” said Mr Puthea.
Mr Puthea said the Cambodia-New Zealand horticulture project would focus on vegetables and fruits.
The Cambodia Quality Horticulture Initiative is part of the Asean-New Zealand Strategic Partnership and Plan of Action 2016-2020, which supports agricultural industry training as well as food safety and standards, according to Mr Brownlee
Research conducted by Cambodia’s Centre for Policy Studies shows that between 200 to 400 tonnes of vegetables are imported daily from neighbouring countries. The research found that between $150 million and $250 million is spent annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China.