The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is set to hold the 6th Annual Macroeconomic Conference at the end of this year, which will focus on the Kingdom’s agriculture sector challenges.
The conference on Agriculture Sector in a Rapid Structural Transformation and Uncertain Global Trade Environment will be held in December in Phnom Penh.
“Agriculture has been one of the main drivers of growth despite the rapid increase in the contribution of industry to the economic growth during the last two decades,” the NBC said.
Agriculture is one of the main drivers of the Kingdom’s economic growth among the garment, tourism and construction sectors.
The NBC cites rural labour shortages and a lack of infrastructure in the agricultural sector as one of the sector’s challenges.
It further cites external causes for concern, such as uncertain global agriculture trade preference schemes – including the recently removed trade preference on the Kingdom’s rice exports to the EU – as well as the Sino-US trade war.
“The cancellation of the tariff-free scheme on Cambodia’s rice exports to the EU may have implications on the welfare of paddy farmers, rice millers’ investments, and logistics and transport agents."
“However, the Sino-US trade war may create opportunities to attract Chinese and US investors to Cambodia’s agricultural sector,” the NBC said.
The rapid development of certain sectors such as garment, tourism and construction has absorbed a large pool of low-skilled rural labour.
The latest data show that the garment and footwear industry employs about one million workers, the majority of whom are from rural areas.
The outflow of rural labour to neighbouring countries, the NBC said, is also large with approximately 1.1 million Cambodians currently residing abroad, of which 61 per cent is in Thailand.
The priority for agricultural development in Cambodia seems to be low compared to other sectors such as the tourism and garments, said an Asian Development Bank (ADB) Independent Evaluation Report earlier this month.