The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is searching for companies to produce or import quality, affordable agricultural fertilisers for distribution in Cambodia to allow for profitable farming.

It said it would issue permission letters to importers or manufacturers of fertiliser that meet the required legal, and quality standards.

“To promote policies to reduce production costs and increase profits for farmers, the ministry welcomes and encourages companies wishing to produce or import high quality and affordable agricultural fertilisers for distribution in the Kingdom,” said a December 7 press release.

Ministry spokeswoman Im Rachna told The Post that farmers had complained about the high prices of agricultural fertilisers, as this was reducing the profit margins of their harvested rice. This initiative followed the previous strategy of producing good quality rice varieties to supply to farmers for next season.

“If we can secure sources of fertiliser that meet our standards and can compete with current market prices, this will gradually increase farmers’ profit,” she said.

Ky Sereyvath, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said several large companies were the only importers fertilisers. Opening up imports would make prices more competitive.

Sereyvath said this would also improve the quality through improved competition, and that the ministry’s solution seemed like the best option to solving the issue.

“I suggest that we produce fertiliser ourselves or allow more companies into the country. This would drive prices down, benefiting farmers,” he concluded.

Theng Savoeun, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Farmer Community (CCFC), said that immediate intervention regarding price increases of fertilisers, pesticides and chemicals could be addressed by the government reducing import tax.

He added that the government could also assign more of the national budget to helping farmers by exploring the possibility of producing chemical fertilisers.

Cambodia and Columbia recently expressed their commitment to strengthening cooperation in the agricultural sector by sharing technology – particularly of genetically modified rice strains – and through training and exchanges of agricultural specialists.

The commitment was made during the 2nd Bilateral Consultation on December 5 in the Colombia capital Bogota, between Ouch Borith, permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Francisco Jose Coy Granados, Colombian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“The Colombian side proposed a joint training project between both countries on agriculture through the National Training Service of the Ministry of Labour of Colombia,” said a December 8 press release by Cambodia’s foreign ministry.