The South Korean government has vowed to provide a $3.3 million grant to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to implement a project to boost production of high-value vegetable crops and improve farmers’ livelihoods in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, according to a senior agriculture official.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director-general for Agriculture Ngin Chhay on September 8 met with Park Kiwook, chairman of the associated South Korean expert group, and his colleagues to discuss the “Demonstration and Value Chain Linkage of High Value Vegetables Production in Mountainous Areas of Cambodia” project.
Chhay said the project would develop a white-potato seed production system, and feature the production of four high-value vegetable seeds in Mondulkiri province: white cabbage, napa cabbage, broccoli, and white potatoes.
“This project is very important to contribute to the development and strengthening of vegetable sub-sectors, especially high-value crops, to meet the market demand in seasons of shortages, by setting up a coherent full-year vegetable planting calendar,” Chhay said.
Although the project was scheduled to be implemented for 48 months from 2021-2024, as Chhay noted, Mondulkiri provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Song Kheang told The Post that Covid had postponed the initiative, which he expects to begin soon.
With white-potato farmers facing “seed problems” ahead of the start of planting season in November, the Korean side through the project will explore other cultivars in collaboration with the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture to counterbalance some of the anticipated losses, according to Kheang.
“Farmers can grow other crops well, such as white cabbage, napa cabbage and broccoli,” he said, adding that the ministry and provincial department advise growers to use net houses.
He said the total area in Mondulkiri devoted to vegetable crop cultivation is 30,000ha, noting that white potatoes account for a minute share.
“This project will help provide more techniques to farmers, especially concerning the production of white-potato seeds, to supply growers and enable them to expand the area under cultivation,” Kheang said.
During the meeting, Park stated that his team would design a complete vegetable production chain and integrate modern technology into all stages, to create a fitting vegetable production model based on prevailing physical conditions, especially those in Mondulkiri, the project’s target province, according to Chhay.
“I sincerely hope that this project will be as fruitful and successful as expected,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon previously reported that the total area for vegetable cultivation in the Kingdom reached 57,208ha at the end of 2019, which yielded 681,099 tonnes that year.
Last year, vegetable production climbed to 716,113 tonnes, which Sakhon said was equivalent to 68 per cent of total domestic demand.
However, he pointed out that Cambodia still needed to import 329,612 tonnes of vegetables – most of which it cannot produce.