The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with private companies on the development of a model safe vegetable centre and the promotion of a safe vegetable value chain.
This will be realised in accordance with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards in a bid to meet local demand and exports, according to the terms of the MoU.
General Directorate of Agriculture director-general Ngin Chhay said the deal is another breakthrough for the directorate in its implementation of the government’s policy concerning agricultural modernisation and reinforcing the Kingdom’s vegetable value chain.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Chhay said he believes that the private sector’s involvement has encouraged farmers to move to safe vegetable production and supply the local market.
“Private sector investment is an important driving force in engaging with the government in improving the quality and safety of vegetables and modernising agriculture as a whole.
“We are trying to mobilise private sector investment in the vegetable value chain through a public-private partnership mechanism between the state, the private sector and farmers under a framework for agricultural development that uses contracts.
“In order to improve the production and supply of safe vegetables to meet domestic demand through quality, safety and competitiveness, as well as to further strengthen the vegetable export market, Cambodia has been turning the crisis of vegetables supply imbalance into a new opportunity for its agricultural sector,” he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Tropicam Fruit and Vegetable Co Ltd CEO Hun Lak said his company has worked with the directorate to develop the 6ha safe vegetable centre at the Banteay Dek Agriculture Research Station located along National Road 1.
Tropicam Fruit and Vegetable also signed MoUs with safe vegetable distributor Natural Agriculture Village and another of Lak’s ventures Tropicam Irrigation Solutions Co Ltd, which supplies modern agricultural equipment and represents “model farmers” from some provinces.
It also signed MoUs with associations such as the Cambodia Chefs’ Association, the Cambodia Restaurant Association, the Cambodia Tourism Federation and the Cambodia Hotel Association.
Lak said: “The signing ceremony is vital to promoting dissemination to stakeholders in the vegetable sector to focus on the production of safe vegetables in keeping with the right standards until they are recognised by public institutions.
“We urge stakeholders in the safe vegetable production chain and consumers to support and promote the spread of safe vegetable production in accordance with GAP standards.”
According to Chhay, Cambodia’s annual demand for vegetables is around one million tonnes, which averages between 2,500-3,000 tonnes per day. It must import between 500-1,000 tonnes daily to keep up.
He said 57,762ha of vegetables were planted last year, which yielded 68,212 tonnes.
The ministry has registered and evaluated 62 fruit and vegetable farms that operate under GAP standards in the period from January-August and plans to register an additional 80 by year’s end, he added.
At the end of last year, there were 1,190 agricultural communities and groups, data from the ministry show. It identified 259 farming communities and 432 farming groups as implementing safe vegetable production.