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Poor local showing at Phnom Penh’s agro fair

Cambodia's biggest agriculture industry event of the year received a cool response on its first day as turnout from local agro-businesses was low and overseas suppliers struggled to find potential buyers for the latest agricultural products.

The Agriculture, Livestock and Aqua-fisheries Exposition was held at Phnom Penh Hotel in the capital yesterday. Over 60 different types of agricultural and fishing products from the US, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Thailand and South Korea are on display at the event, which runs through today.

Addressing the event’s opening ceremony, Nao Thuok, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the exposition aims to connect suppliers of agricultural equipment with local farmers.

“Through this expo, customers, farmers and producers have an opportunity to get to know each other,” he said.

“This gives them a chance to learn more about the different production solutions that could be applied to the benefit of the agricultural sector.”

However, the thin crowds on the expo floor reflected the broader negative trend of Cambodia’s agriculture sector, which has struggled to attract new investment.

A World Bank report in August last year raised concerns about the future of Cambodia’s farming sector after growth rates fell below 2 per cent.

“With global food prices declining and the land frontier diminishing, Cambodia has lost its two main drivers for agricultural growth,” it said.

Kry Vongsocheat, a business development manager for Control Union, a quality management and logistics company, offered an alternative explanation for the low turnout.

“Poor preparations for the event did not give companies enough chances to present their products to consumers, which has affected the turnout,” he said.

He noted that when he recently attended a similar livestock and agriculture exposition in Vietnam, he noticed a much greater number of visitors.

“Events like these should be more widely advertised and the organisers should spread the information to the right consumers,” Vongsocheat said.

Despite this, he said the fair offered a good opportunity for him to network, and for international companies to provide solutions to local farmers.

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