Cambodia's agricultural exports in 2021 reached 7,984,251.83 tonnes, a surge of 63.83 per cent or 3,110,790.73 tonnes year-on-year, and generated $4,967,852,713, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.

The minister posted the figures on social media at the weekend, citing a preliminary summary compiled from data from the ministry’s National Phytosanitary Database.

The value of 2021’s exports represents a nearly 11 per cent jump from $4.49 billion in 2020, as previously reported by the ministry.

He said agricultural exports reached 68 unique countries and territories, listing major products as milled and paddy rice, peppercorn, mangoes, bananas, cassava, corn and other vegetables.

Cambodia Safe Fish, Meat and Vegetables Association vice-president Sok Yorn told The Post on January 2 that the cultivation of fruits and vegetables has enjoyed continuous growth, above all over the past two or three years, in a trend he said was further accentuated by growers’ tendencies to merely emulate others around them.

He argued that an upswing in agricultural activity would be a net positive for the sector, not only creating jobs for the people, but also providing a wealth of socio-economic benefits, such as a reduction in imports and a ramp-up in the production of quality fruits and vegetables.

"The progress made in capacity building efforts targeting domestic and export agricultural supply is the result of the travails of farmers, investors and other stakeholders," he said.

However, asserting that most Cambodian agricultural products do not comply with quality and phytosanitary standards for export, Yorn demanded that growers and agricultural authorities devote more attention to this predicament.

He also suggested officials strengthen law enforcement related to imports, which he stressed would encourage the market for local products and stabilise prices.

Local growers often lack the funds to expand cultivation, and loans from banks and microfinance institutions require some form of collateral, he pointed out, indicating that the aquaculture sector seems particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.

"If banks and financial institutions could offer better conditions for loans to the aquaculture sector, cultivation in Cambodia would be even greater,” Yorn said.

The minister on December 30 noted that cultivation areas, harvest yields and agricultural exports have enjoyed a consistent uptrend, especially during the Covid era.

Sakhon underlined that the ministry has rolled out a number of policies to support and boost production and quality standards to meet domestic demand and allow for exports.

He was speaking at a ceremony marking the inauguration of a “model safe vegetable centre” in eastern Kandal province and establishment of a partnership to promote the “safe vegetable” chain, in accordance with Cambodia Good Agricultural Practices (CamGAP) standards.

“Safe vegetables” are those free of microbiological hazards with a reduced dependence on chemicals.