Cambodian exports in the “assorted vegetables” category amounted to 121.19 tonnes in the first half of this year, rising by 150.39 per cent compared to the same period in 2022.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries attributed the growth to the increasing demand for vegetables in the international market, as well as the improved quality of Cambodian vegetables.

The “assorted vegetables” category consists of cucumbers, cabbages, choy sum, broccoli and cauliflowers, and excludes a number of crops that may be considered vegetables in the culinary sense. Notable examples of excluded items are legumes such as mung beans and soybeans, grains like corn and rice, peppercorns, chilli peppers and cassava.

According to the ministry, the growth of agricultural processing has helped absorb local raw materials, contributing to the added value of the crop value chain, including vegetables.

Hun Lak, director-general of fruit and vegetable supplier Tropicam Fruit and Vegetable Co Ltd, on July 19 said mixed produce such as spices, peppers, rhubarb and lentils were proving easy to export with an increase of more than 150 per cent.

This was because of Cambodia’s trial stage in bringing vegetables to the international market.

His company has already exported mixed vegetables and spices to South Korea, and is currently studying the possibility of exporting to European countries, he added.

“Currently, we are not able to export produce other than spices, such as pepper, rhubarb, lentils, chillies, galangal, turmeric and finger root, among others, as these, being easy to store and transport, are in high demand in the international market.

“Others such as leafy vegetables, raw vegetables and tubers, we cannot export because they are not very profitable in the market,” Lak said.

His company was focusing on producing safe vegetables for the local market, he added, and is expanding its supply and transportation chain to meet the growing demand.

Currently, the company has set up net houses to grow safe vegetables in provinces including Kandal, Kampong Cham and Mondulkiri.

Yourng Pakk, the CEO of value chain management firm AgriBee (Cambodia) Plc, noted that vegetables grown locally and exported – particularly to China and Europe – fetched better prices than in the domestic market.

Cambodia also produces vegetables for local supply, he added, such as leafy vegetables, raw vegetables and certain tubers.

Some vegetables were imported from Vietnam to meet demand due to low domestic production, while the Kingdom also exported vegetables to Vietnam, with it a common practice for neighbouring countries to supply to each other.

Pakk said the setting up of processing facilities and warehouses for storing vegetables should be considered, as well as the strengthening of vegetable farming communities through raising awareness of safe cultivation techniques.

“To increase the supply of vegetables to meet domestic demand and boost exports, the relevant institutions should consider setting up processing facilities and warehouses for storing vegetables, with at least one facility per province,” he said.

“Raising awareness on safe vegetable cultivation techniques would also strengthen vegetable farming communities,” Pakk said.

He added that capital is also an important issue to consider, noting that Cambodia’s Rural Development and Agriculture Bank and SME Bank, as well as other commercial banks, were considering how to best help farmers in the agricultural sector

Pakk said that for the vegetable sector in Cambodia – with its favourable geographical location – there should be more large-scale “enterprise farmers” growing on a large scale of between 50-100ha to boost domestic supply and increase exports.