The Ministry of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Saturday with Siem Reap-based Khmer silk manufacturer GSD Pheach Co Ltd in a bid to pursue growth initiatives to further the development of the commodity.
Minister Pan Sorasak said at the signing ceremony in Siem Reap province that the MoU aims to boost the Cambodian silk agro-commercial product value chain, which is under the Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (AIMS) project.
AIMS is a joint project between the government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) worth $45 million, $8.68 million of which is provided by the government.
Sorasak said the AIMS project is the first step of the private-government partnership to promote and develop Cambodia’s silk sector. Through the project, farmers will obtain contracts from GSD Pheach to produce unprocessed silk.
“This private-sector partnership also provides better quality silkworms and boosts the cultivation of quality mulberry trees. Farmers will also increase their profits,” he said.
He said the project is a multilateral collaboration platform to boost the silk production value chain by finding solutions to technical and irrigation problems and diversifying markets and credit sources.
The project will also form new farmer groups aimed at expanding and improving production to meet market demands.
“The Ministry of Commerce has partnered with the private sector and silk value chain development partners to address prioritised concerns and expand the silk sector for the national economy based on demand for domestic silk products and international markets,” he said.
GSD Pheach executive director Oum Sorphea told The Post on Sunday that the MoU is a contribution from the private sector to help promote the Cambodian silk market and create jobs for farmers.
At the same time, both the government and the private sector are making efforts to encourage low cost silk production to maintain competitiveness in the market.
“This is our contribution to the development of our Cambodian silk industry. We want to encourage farmers to grow enough mulberry trees to supply my company to produce silk and my company will teach them farming techniques,” she said.
Sorasak said the government has developed a national silk strategy for 2016-2020 to revitalise the Cambodian silk sector, aiming to modernise silkworm breeding and sustainable silk production.
“I call on the two signatories to work together to contribute to the development of the Cambodian silk industry. We want to create jobs, reduce migration and increase incomes for silk farmers, especially women.
“I would also like to urge all for-profit companies in the Cambodian silk industry to focus on the quality of their products because quality plays a very important role in long-term strategic competition,” he said.
Cheng Sopheap, founder and president of Keiy Tambanh Khmer, a manufacturer of traditional fabrics and scarves, said Khmer silk textile businesses are severely lacking a market because of Covid-19.
She said the government must prevent imports of fake products inject greater vitality into the Cambodian silk market and sharpen its competitive edge.
“Nowadays, there is no market at all because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Nobody buys our products as there are no celebratory gatherings, weddings, parties or seminars. The overseas market has also been reduced because of the crisis,” she said.
The National Silk Strategy Report 2016-2020 said Cambodian silk production accounts for only one per cent of total domestic consumption, while imports account for 99 per cent, equivalent to more than 400 tonnes per year.