A report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries shows that Cambodia produces about 2,500 tonnes of vegetables per day, leaving a daily shortfall of roughly 900 tonnes, all of which must be imported, an official said.

Im Rachana, the ministry’s cabinet information officer, said the imports are related to problems with Cambodian cultivation techniques and a lack of modern agricultural equipment. Natural disasters, she noted, had caused an additional shortfall, prompting the private sector to import enough to meet demand.

“To meet the demand for locally grown vegetables, the ministry needs to strengthen and promote the cultivation of vegetables by developing medium and long-term strategic plans to support local farmers,” she said.

In addition, the government and its development partners need to focus on supporting infrastructure, including irrigation systems, net houses, agricultural tools and equipment, and the discounting of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. The government also needs to provide technical support for cultivation and post-harvest cultivation techniques, strengthen research and development, and strengthen market infrastructure, she added.

“We urge vegetable farmers to establish a community which will be able to grow produce in line with market demand. We also encourage the private sector to invest in the vegetable sector,” she said.

Theng Savoeun, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, said there are two main factors which have made it difficult for local farmers to meet demand.

“There are issues with production. Farmers are barely able to cover production costs, especially when they must compete with imported goods. Unfortunately, this is compounded by uneven distribution networks – sometimes farmers have a surplus of stock but cannot find a market for it,” he said.

“If we look at the methods of production and distribution of our farmers, they are simply following what they know. There is no support or technical guidance from state agricultural experts,” he added.

Savoeun said many farmers opted not to produce vegetables for these reasons, as they could not always sell them. This in turn meant the Kingdom relied on more and more imported goods, leading to a loss of income as well as missed job opportunities.

Cambodia produces 2,489 tonnes of vegetables per day, equivalent to 73 per cent of its domestic demand of 3,389 tonnes. Many of the imported vegetables are ones which can only be grown in the cold months, such as carrots and potatoes.