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Kingdom’s vegetables stand to gain market power in EU

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Agriculture ministry senior official Ngin Chhay said the Kingdom’s exports to the EU would fare better while Vietnam and Thailand have ‘red cards’ temporarily blocking their vegetables. Hean Rangsey

Kingdom’s vegetables stand to gain market power in EU

Cambodia will seize the opportunity to export vegetables to EU markets while its neighbors are banned from exporting vegetables to EU markets, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries senior official Ngin Chhay said on Wednesday.

Chhay, the director-general of the General Directorate of Agriculture, told a press conference at the Council of Ministers that the Kingdom’s exports to the EU would fare better while Vietnam and Thailand have “red cards” temporarily blocking their vegetables.

He noted that Cambodian vegetable exports to EU markets remain relatively small, however.

Due to the actions of some unscrupulous growers and exporters, he said, the EU issued the Kingdom a “yellow card” six years ago as a warning that its vegetables did not comply with its sanitation and phytosanitation standards.

With its “yellow card” rescinded, the Kingdom can now export vegetables to the EU smoothly, he said.

“It took me six years to work out a fix to the ‘yellow card’ issue and it was pulled out two months ago, but Vietnam and Thailand still have a ‘red card’, as I know they don’t export fresh vegetables to Europe.

“I would like to see a thumbs up from foreign markets for our products now that we are famous and our vegetables are known to be all-organic and produced naturally.

“Nowadays we have no more ‘yellow cards’, which is good news for farmers and investors who want to grow vegetables to export to the EU. We can export now,” said Chhay.

Chan Pich , general manager of rice miller and exporter Signatures of Asia Co Ltd, told The Post on Wednesday that the EU has been very supportive of the Kingdom’s vegetable exports since his company began exporting them to the EU in 2016.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said his company would ship between six and seven tonnes of various vegetables via air per week, at between two and three tonnes per flight.

But exports have been delayed as the government suspended flight operations to curb the spread of Covid-19 disease, he said.

“The European vegetable market is good, especially in countries with a large Asian population.

“We export vegetables to the Czech Republic, France, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. However, Cambodia’s vegetable exports face a high cost of transport because we do not have direct flights to Europe,” he said.

International Agricultural Development Fund (IFAD) country programme officer Meng Sakphouseth told The Post that more Cambodian farmers are becoming privy to modern agricultural practices and are grow vegetables in compliance with technical standards.

Meanwhile, he said, the ministry continues to promote vegetable farming in line with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) guidelines. It also encourages farmers to build net houses and illustrates proper fertiliser use.

Cambodia exported about 39 tonnes of vegetables in the first three months of the year to France, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, the ministry said in a report.

In April, the ministry released a 16-page proclamation titled Cambodia’s Organic Agricultural Rules and National Logo for Implementation in the Production and Processing of Primary Food Products.

It aims to instil confidence in producers and consumers in the quality and safety of the Kingdom’s agricultural products, and uphold their standards to sharpen their competitive edge and promote their commercialisation in local markets and exports.

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