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Import bans to shore up aquaculture

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Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon (centre) says authorities are encouraging investment in feed production for the aquaculture sector. Photo supplied

Import bans to shore up aquaculture

Industrial players in the aquaculture sector applauded a government decision to temporarily suspend the import of some species that are most commonly produced in Cambodia, hoping to curtail overall imports and instil more confidence in farmers to raise fish.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on January 8 issued a press release announcing the suspension.

Minister Veng Sakhon said that in their mission to shore up aquaculture, the authorities are also encouraging investment in feed production for the sector.

He said: “The decision to suspend the imports now is to boost the domestic market, but we will reinstate them once demand is high enough.”

Besides boosting the income of aquaculturists, he posited that the perks of added aquaculture investment would extend to rice millers and other factory owners, whose products are raw materials for feed manufacturers.

Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CCC) president Sok Raden told The Post on January 10 that the suspension would be a boon for local marine farmers.

He said: “On behalf of the CCC, I am very pleased and supportive of the decision as it is a part of ensuring food security for the country.

“What’s more, local aquaculture products are of superior quality because they are given high-grade feed that is properly formulated, while it is unknown if some of the stuff that’s imported has undergone on-site inspections or has been given decent feed.”

In addition to the move, Raden called on border authorities to increase inspections, citing a perceived recent increase in illegal imports.

He added that increasing government intervention through low-interest loans from the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) was also making significant headway in promoting local aquaculture – especially fish and frog farming.

With family and business aquaculture now on a rising trend, Raden says Cambodia is also keen on international investment in the production of fishmeal and other feed.

He said: “I truly would like to see more people invest in Cambodian animal feed production, because spending money on feed from abroad doesn’t provide revenue for the Cambodian economy.”

Song Seyha, owner of a fish farm in Tbong Khmum province’s southernmost Ponhea Kraek district, said curbing imports of Cambodia’s most farmed fish would boost farmers’ confidence and increase investment.

“Suspending imports can give local farmers a degree of confidence in the market,” he said. “Raising also stands to enjoy acceleration in growth.”

Aquaculture output surged 27.79 per cent to some 400,000 tonnes last year from the 307,408 tonnes posted in 2019, data from the ministry show.

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