Implementation of a previously announced three-year $20 million programme to increase local vegetable and fragrant rice production will begin next month to help boost domestic supply and reduce imports, an agriculture official said yesterday.
The goal of the project is to increase local production of vegetables by 160 tonnes per day and production of 500,000 tonnes of paddy rice a year, Kean Sophea, deputy director of the Department of Horticulture and Subsidiary Crops at the Agricultural Ministry, said.
To date, 2,060 farmers and 260 rice cooperatives have been recruited to the programme and they will start planting next month.
“So far we have trained the farmers to better understand how to cultivate their crops and improve both their farming and technical skills,” he said. “The farmers will start to farm the vegetables in July and begin to supply the market a month later.”
Vegetable production will focus on 13 priority crops including lettuce, chili, bok choy, tomato, cucumber and green melon, Sophea said. While the rice crops from the programme will be solely meant for exports.
“We are targeting to supply our local market with at least 160 tonnes of vegetables a day so that we can ensure food safety and fair prices in the market, while also reducing imports from neighbouring countries,” he said.
“The three-year programme will reinvigorate vegetable farming following the Good Agriculture Practices standards created by the Ministry of Agriculture.”
Sophea estimated that between 500 to 600 tonnes of vegetables per day are imported to Cambodia.
Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, said that the Kingdom spent vast amounts to import vegetables, which reduces labour opportunities and income for farmers.
The project is designed to increase crop diversification and help increase capacity building for farmers, he added.
“This plan can help replace imported vegetables with locally grown ones and help reduce the millions of dollars spent each year on imports,” he said.
“We need to replace imports step-by-step through our domestic production in a way that maintains the quality and standards of our supply chain for consumers.”