The finance and agriculture ministries have jointly announced that they are close to submitting the Agricultural Development Policy 2021-2030 to the plenary session of the Council of Ministers for review and approval.

Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon held a meeting together with 15 other ministries and institutions on March 29 to review the final draft of the policy.

Sakhon told The Post that the policy is focused on setting out strategies and activities to “properly implement the financial resources policy, conduct monitoring and evaluation, risk management and draw conclusions”.

He said the policy hopes to develop the agricultural sector, thereby transforming Cambodian agriculture into a “modern, competitive, inclusive, climate-resilient and sustainable” industry that will increase farmers’ income, prosperity and well-being.

The policy also hopes to increase the sector’s competitiveness and produce “safer and more nutritious” products with “high consideration” for sustainable land, water, forest and fisheries management.

He said the agriculture ministry has received additional input from the inter-ministerial body to “improve and fill in the gaps” in the draft national policy on agricultural development, and has set April 8 as the deadline for ministries to send all the content they wish for this endeavour.

Improvements will subsequently be revised by the Economic and Financial Policy Committee’s expert working group, after which it will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for review and approval.

Mong Reththy, CEO of Mong Reththy Group, said the policy could go further in terms of its aims, and urged the government to develop irrigation systems to encourage and incentivise farmers.

“Farmers’ challenges are, first of all, the weather, which is an indisputable issue when it comes to rain or drought or floods. We cannot blame the government [for that]. But what people need is infrastructure, roads, water, electricity, indispensable for agriculture.

“Therefore, I want the government to make efforts to encourage farmers particularly through the development of irrigation systems. In the past, we have seen that the state encourages various tax incentives [to contractors, to help realise this],” he said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng noted that farmers often face many agricultural challenges such as the weather, technology and transport infrastructure. As a result, the Kingdom’s agricultural industry lacks investors with large capital as they tend to shy away from the sector, citing the high risks involved.

“The government’s push through [developing a] national policy is right as it encourages foreign investment, and what we need is capital and technology. That requires more foreign or even local investors,” he said.

At the closing ceremony of the agriculture ministry’s annual results review meeting for 2021 on March 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodian agriculture is now a “priority” sector as it “ensures food security, nutrition and essential exports”.

He noted that more investment is needed in physical infrastructure, including irrigation systems, transportation and logistics, as well as agricultural credit, technology and the research and development of new varieties.