Cambodia garnered nearly $4 billion from the export of over 7.3 million tonnes of agricultural products to international markets in the first 11 months of 2023. During November, volume exceeded 1 million tonnes, as reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

From January to November 2023, agricultural exports amounted to 7,314,190 tonnes. This comprised 595,630 tonnes of milled rice, 2,497,075 tonnes of paddy rice and about 4,221,485 tonnes of non-rice agricultural products, reaching 75 countries and territories. 

This marks a 4.6% decrease compared to the same period in 2022, according to a report by the General Department of Agriculture released on December 5. 

Total revenue from the exports, as per bills of sale, was $3.909 billion. This included $515.22 million from milled rice exports, roughly $840.28 million from paddy rice and about $2.554 billion from non-rice agricultural products.

The department attributed the slight decline in exports during the period to various factors, including geopolitical conflicts and wars impacting global trade flows, the high cost of paddy rice in the country and some undocumented transactions, with exports occurring through various corridors.

“Although agricultural exports in the first 11 months of 2023 are still lower than in the corresponding period of 2022, there’s a significant upward trend. In fact, exports in November 2023 reached 1,037,552 tonnes, an increase of 346,241 tonnes compared to 691,311 tonnes in October 2023,” the report stated.

Sok Yorn, vice-president of the Cambodia Safe Fish, Meat and Vegetables Association (CSFMVA), told The Post on November 5 that enhancing agricultural export capacity necessitates bolstering support for domestic products. 

He highlighted the current reliance on imports from neighbouring countries due to high local prices for agricultural products, such as vegetables. 

Yorn emphasised the need for a robust quality control mechanism for imported goods and incentives for farmers to boost domestic production.

“Supporting domestic products will lead to increased productivity and, in turn, boost exports,” he said.

Lay Chhun Hour, CEO of City Rice Import Export Co Ltd, noted earlier this week that although 2023’s paddy rice prices are considerably higher than in 2022, the volume of rice exports remains similar to last year’s levels.

To promote the agricultural sector, the government recently authorised the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, in collaboration with the agriculture ministry, to conduct a recruitment exam for agricultural officials to be deployed in communes.

At a December 4 press conference on the “Commune Agriculture Recruitment Competition 2023” held at the Royal School of Administration, agriculture minister Dith Tina stated: “The first batch of recruitment is for 250 individuals, who will be assigned to 250 communes in some provinces with rice cultivation activities. In 2024, we plan to recruit 800 more people, and in 2025, an additional 550, to complete the programme”.