The Kandal provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on December 25 will work with local agribusiness firm Davane Plc to champion safe fruits and vegetables on the local market.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed to this end by department head Bun Tuon Simona and Davane CEO Chheng Makara at the department.
Davane, whose name stands for “Develop Agriculture Value Chain Network for Economic and Environment”, pitches itself as a specialist in agricultural and market value chains that locally promotes safe fruits and vegetables.
The firm says it encourages standards and practices that prevent food-borne illnesses and eliminate the presence of toxic chemicals such as pesticides.
It said in a press release that it would help set up a four-step food safety inspection system under the MoU: farm assessments – including surprise inspections, chemical residue testing of products, agricultural contracting and a scheme of financial incentives.
Duong Kim Chhean, a participant in the programme, said both parties will provide technical support to the farmers and monitor the implementation of these food safety measures in the field.
They will also inspect the produce for the presence of toxic chemicals at the distribution centre before they are released to the markets, he said.
“This MoU [establishes a system] that will help farmers get their produce into more markets and it will increase the prices they are able to charge as well,” Kim Chhean said.
He said producers in Kandal province can supply the local market with between 300 and 400kg of certified safe vegetables per day. Today, the price of cabbage is between 3,000 and 3,500 riel ($0.74 and $0.87) and collard greens are between 6,000 and 7,000 riel per kg.
Kim Chhean is also a monitoring and evaluation consultant for the department’s Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) project.
On his Facebook page early this month, minister Veng Sakhon said farmers were now more prosperous than they had been three years ago.
He claimed that farmers can earn an average of $3,308 a year per household in 2020, an increase of 16 per cent compared to $2,859 in 2017.
“The government is looking to reach the goal of an annual household income of $4,500 by 2030,” Sakhon said.
The province’s Sa’ang district has 17,150ha of agricultural land, on which 5,200ha vegetables are currently grown, the department reported.
Vegetable production in the district hit 42,176 tonnes this year (on 5,169ha), marking a 49 per cent jump from the 28,359 tonnes (on 4,600ha) posted in 2016.