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Producing vegetables for the Kingdom

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A man handles beans on a farm in Russey Keo district. Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

CAMBODIA does not produce enough vegetables to meet domestic demand, requiring large amounts of imports every day, experts say.

The Kingdom has made a push to boost the agriculture industry, but cannot viably produce certain types of vegetables.

Cheap imported vegetables hurt domestic farmers, but benefit consumers, Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said.

“If the output of Cambodian farmers cannot fulfill the country’s basic needs, then neighbouring countries can export to our country,” he said.

The Kingdom imports about 1000 tonnes of vegetables a day, he said.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries deputy director general Hean Vanhorn said Cambodia imported vegetables it could not produce.

“Some kinds of vegetables don’t grow in our country, while weather conditions are not suitable, so imports are needed,” he said. However, Cambodia’s farmers were improving at growing vegetables, he said.

Some vendors said the imports were not ideal, but necessary given a lack of production.

Hong Heng, the chairman of Phnom Penh’s Damkor Market, said its vendors sold about 100 tonnes of vegetables each day, of which 80 per cent came from Vietnam and the rest from Cambodia’s provinces.

Imported vegetables generally included cabbage, collared greens, broccoli and onions, he said.

Kandal province farmer Tha Chanthun said that every two weeks he collected about 300 kilograms of vegetables such as leeks, cabbages and onions for sale at the market. 

One kilogram fetched between 400 to 2000 riel depending on the type of vegetable and the season, he said.

Tha Chanthun said he ran a thriving business, but other vendors said they were out-competed by international producers.

Organic Garden general manager Soam Sothearith said his vegetable gardens had few items that sold out.

“The purpose of the gardens is to sell 100 kilograms of vegetables a day, but I can sell only 70 to 80 kilograms to the supermarket and a few restaurants in Phnom Penh.”

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