In the past year, Cambodia has managed to supply itself with 95 per cent of the meat required for domestic demand, with the domestic and export markets worth a total of more than $2 billion in value, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina.

Tina was speaking at an annual meeting of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production (GDAHP), held on February 13 to review its 2022 work results and direction for 2023.

He said due to the Covid-19 crisis, Cambodia’s economy contracted by 3.1 per cent in 2020, adding that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and other global challenges have also impacted the Kingdom’s economy.

Tina said the government has largely overcome the challenges, having restored the economy and achieved growth of 3.0 per cent in 2021 and 5.2 per cent in 2022, and is projected to achieve growth of up to 7.0 per cent again, similar to pre-Covid levels.

“The animal husbandry industry grew by 8.8 per cent in 2022 and, as a result, Cambodia managed to supply 95 per cent of the meat required for domestic demand. Meat production, animal exports and animal products were worth over $2 billion in the past year.

“In addition, 26 domestic factories were able to produce over 1.5 million tonnes of animal feed per year that was able to supply 67 per cent of the animal feed for domestic demand,” the minister stated.

Tina said the leadership and officials at all levels of the GDAHP had overcome every difficulty and challenges in discharging their duties with responsibility despite problems arising from Covid-19.

He urged them to inspect and prioritise devising clear plans and spend effectively to achieve a level of animal production that ensures food security.

“We plan to focus on food security and sustainability based on traditional and cultural nutritious foods, but we are prioritising food security. At the same time, we must have an understanding of religious dietary rules and sanitation and phytosanitary standards, as well as the clear distinctions within the law.

“In addition, we must make sure that raisers, consumers and relevant parties in production chains are happy and have a correct understanding so that they don’t get confused over the government’s policy. We have to make slaughterhouses better and up to standard, sustainable and profitable to truly serve the nation and people,” he continued.

Tina also advised officials at all levels to try hard to address these challenges and not allow a mountain of problems to pile up.

He suggested that relevant departments analyse animal prices, incomes and spending and review their own spending and must not allow red tape to get in their way. They have to retain capable human resources to efficiently and responsibly work according to their own skills and techniques.

A farm owner in Kampong Chhnang province who asked not to be named was happy that the minister pushed for measures and solutions for the problems of meat production in Cambodia.

She said she expected the problems faced by the animal raisers will be effectively addressed, though she claimed that animal husbandry in Cambodia is currently good and up to standard.

“In my experience, I have been raising animals for nearly 10 years. Domestic animal husbandry is better than others, though sometimes we still faced a repeat of problems like low-quality products being imported from neighbouring countries.

“And the cost of electricity is high even though we have experienced frequent blackouts, so we have to spend more. If the ministry is able to solve those problems, it would be better for us,” she said.

Theng Savoeun, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), welcomed the minister’s initiative to address the issues, especially low market prices due to competition with imports.

“I ask the agriculture minister and other relevant ministries to solve the problem of the market prices for meat production to make the prices reasonable and encourage the supply of more animal husbandry and more exports, while maintaining high levels of domestic product use,” he said.

“If we use more domestic products, we will improve the industry and people’s animal husbandry livelihoods will be better,” he added.