Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong River agriculture project yields just 60 tonnes of vegetables

Mekong River agriculture project yields just 60 tonnes of vegetables

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A farmer harvests ridged Luffa (Luffa acutangula) in Chroy Changvar district’s Prek Leap village in 2016. Pha Lina

Mekong River agriculture project yields just 60 tonnes of vegetables

A $20 million food production project in the Mekong River provinces is yielding just 60 tonnes of vegetables a day out of its 160-tonne daily goal, a Ministry of Agriculture official said.

The ministry’s Boosting Food Production programme – a three-year initiative launched in mid-2016 to support crop production along the Mekong River – which had set a goal of supplying the local market with 160 tonnes of vegetables per day following quality and safety standards, will come to an end by the close of next year.

Reinvigorating vegetable farming

The ministry’s Department of Horticulture and Subsidiary Crops deputy director Kean Sophea said 2,060 farmers and 260 rice cooperatives in the provinces along the Mekong River are part of the project.

The three-year programme, he said, served to reinvigorate vegetable farming following the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) standards that were created by the ministry. It focussed on 13 priority crops that include lettuce, chilli, bok choy, tomato, cucumber and zucchini.

Sophea expects the community will be able to supply 100 tonnes per day by the end of next year when the project is finished.

“[Under the] GAP, vegetables are currently getting more support from local consumers, even if it is a bit more expensive. They trust the local produce,” he said, adding that farmers also understand farming techniques better which leads to attaining higher yields and improved quality.

Contract farming

The Kingdom consumes 500 tonnes of vegetables per day, at a daily cost of between $200,000 and $300,000.

Cambodia imports about 40 per cent of its fruits and vegetables at an annual cost of around $200 million, mainly from Vietnam, which is notorious among locals for containing unsafe chemicals and pesticides.

Sun Sokheng, a farmer who joined the project and has been cultivating crops on 0.5ha, said after joining the project, his annual yield increased from 10 tonnes to 13 tonnes. He now earns between $2,000 and $4,000 in additional profits a year.

“We’re learning a lot about farming following the GAP. And we can sell at better prices. But farmers need to have contract farming, which will guarantee our livelihood."

“We currently face some challenges such as pests and the fact that the market is not secure for us . . . Our buyers are not willing to sign any contract farming with us,” he said.

Hach Hean, a local buyer, said he collects at least 500kg of vegetables daily, but cannot make contracts with the farmers, as he faces competition in importing vegetables.

“Even if I could sell at a better price, I am still not able to enter into contract farming as I have to compete with the prices of other vegetable suppliers, who import vegetables at lower prices,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting