Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on December 30 called on the private sector to increase investment in “safe vegetable” production, to boost the supply capacity for domestic and international markets.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a “model safe vegetable centre” in eastern Kandal province’s Kien Svay district co-developed by Tropicam Fruit and Vegetable Co Ltd, Sakhon highlighted that “safe vegetables”, or those free of microbiological hazards with a reduced dependence on chemicals, could be key to attracting foreign tourists.
To build self-reliance in domestic supply and exports, he said it was “absolutely necessary” to increase safe vegetable production.
Expanding and improving the cultivation of safe vegetables not only promotes the health of consumers and helps farmers and investors earn income, but also reels in international leisure travellers and inspires greater confidence in the quality of food, he added.
He called for a concerted effort to grow more safe produce for consumers and expand distribution channels, quipping that the state budget alone could not drive the sector forward.
“For the agricultural sector to function, it needs the participation of the state, the private sector, development partners and the overall agricultural community to develop and progress,” Sakhon said.
Ngin Chhay, head of the General Directorate of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, noted that the new centre was the result of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked between the directorate and Tropicam on October 14, 2020.
He chalked up the project as “another new achievement” of the directorate’s efforts to formulate agricultural modernisation development plans and guide the expansion of Cambodian safe vegetable production chains.
He added that investment in agriculture has grown significantly in recent years, in terms of quantity, quality, market and the use of new technologies.
As of end-2021, the area under vegetable cultivation in Cambodia is about 69,000ha, with a total yield of 800,000 tonnes, he said.
However, local vegetables struggle to compete with imports from neighbouring countries, due to a number of technological shortcomings and challenges in postharvest handling, he added.
“Currently, Cambodia cannot supply 100 per cent of its own vegetables, which requires some imports from neighbouring countries,” Chhay conceded.
Nonetheless, the Kingdom can now supply 80-85 per cent of local demand, which is a substantially greater percentage than in previous years, according to Sakhon.
The 6ha safe vegetable centre is located at the Banteay Dek Agriculture Research Station on National Road 1 in Prek Pol village of Kien Svay’s Banteay Dek commune, east of the capital.