In response to a Japanese firm’s suggestion that Cambodian farmers cultivate barley as an alternative cash crop for exports, agriculture minister Dith Tina advised that the company ensure a sustainable, long-term profitable market for the produce.

Nishida Barley Processing representatives said during their September 19 meeting with Tina that the firm aims to introduce barley to Cambodian farmers and plans to export it to Japan, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Tina highlighted the importance of developing the agriculture sector by prioritising the development of products that will enhance the livelihoods of farmers. He said the Kingdom excels in production and cultivation, but requires significant investment in value-added processing for export markets.

“If we decide to motivate farmers to cultivate new crops for new markets and production chains, it’s crucial that the private sector can guarantee the stability of large markets and long-term profitability,” he said.

“The ministry will continue to offer support and is conducting further studies into investment in new agricultural crops,” he added.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), advised investors in the agricultural sector, particularly for new crop cultivation, to thoroughly research their chosen areas, markets and growing techniques in order to avoid encountering market challenges.

He noted that barley cultivation is new to the region, so the company needs to employ appropriate techniques and offer training to any farmers who intend to grow it.

“Given Cambodia’s geographical location, fertile soil and favourable climate, foreign investors are keen on cultivating many crops that are suitable for the country’s weather. However, I believe it’s essential for companies to conduct thorough research before making any investment,” he said.

According to the Healthline website, barley is a popular grain, and is cultivated in hot climates globally. It’s among the earliest cultivated cereals, notably in Eurasia, dating back thousands of years. It claimed that barley, being nutrient-rich and high in fibre, can help mitigate the risks of diabetes and obesity.