A new vegetable market in Pursat city will pave the way for chemical-free vegetables to be marketed in the province, according to the market’s owner.
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Baitang (Kampuchea) Plc. chairman Phou Puy told Khmer Times yesterday that the vegetable market was 80 percent complete and would be opened to the public either in November or December.
Mr Puy said vegetable growers who sold their produce in the new market would be given rent-free status for their stalls for five years, but they had to be responsible for their own waste management that strictly followed hygiene laws.
“This market would be open to all and the reason we set up this place is to encourage farmers to grow chemical-free vegetables to supply consumers,” he added.
“We want these locally grown vegetables to compete with imported ones from neighbouring countries. Right now there is a lot of concern that imported vegetables contain harmful chemicals.”
Mr Puy said he was also confident that vegetable growers in the province could also export their produce overseas.
The new Pursat vegetable market was initiated by Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem, who was elected to represent Pursat province in the National Assembly in 2003, and Mr Puy.
In January, the government announced that it had designated eight provinces to start boosting vegetable production from this year in a move to curb imports from neighbouring countries, mainly Vietnam.
The eight provinces are Pursat, Kandal, Battambang, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap.
The project, called Boosting Food Projection 2017-2019, has a government budget of some $20 million, of which about $10 million is for the production of vegetables.
Research conducted by the 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.
Ing Kimleang, deputy governor of Pursat, told Khmer Times that farmers in the province were now producing chemical-free vegetables.
“They will be ready to produce organically-grown vegetables by mid-2018,” said Mr Kimleang.
He said that 13 big restaurants in the province are currently purchasing chemical- free vegetables from farmers in the area.
“In Pursat, though we are not growing organic vegetables, yet, we however are consuming vegetables grown safely with very minimal amount of chemicals.
“Provincial technical experts are now trying to produce natural fertiliser before allowing farmers to grow organic vegetables.”
Pursat provincial agriculture department director Lay Piseth said he hoped the market would boost the local economy.
“When the market is up and running, it will encourage local farmers to grow more vegetables to supply the country,” Mr Piseth said.
“People will expand their farming land for vegetables without being worried about finding markets for their produce. This will also help reduce poverty.”