The climate and soil conditions of Oddar Meanchey province are favourable for the cultivation of paddy rice, but provincial leaders see no reason why the province cannot diversify and introduce other crops. To that end, they intend to seek investors who will develop the province’s agricultural sector.

Speaking at an annual meeting held on March 21 to review the province’s past achievements and set future directions, governor Pen Kosal said this will not only help boost the local economy but will also reduce migration.

‘Lead the country’

Kosal said the province’s economy depends on three main areas: agriculture, mining and tourism.

Agriculture focuses on rubber, rice, bananas, cashew nuts, cassava, and mangoes of the Keo Romiet variety, while mining centres around gold, gemstones, lead and coal. The province’s tourism industry includes eco-tourism, cultural tourism and 14 historical heritage sites.

“To promote the agricultural sector, in the past the provincial administration has organised various business clusters such as cassava, melons, yellow watermelon, Keo Romiet mango, vegetables and rice,” he said.

“Currently, we lead the country’s cultivation and supply of yellow watermelon, orange watermelon and melons, as well as yellow bananas, which are grown on a total area of 8,046ha throughout the province. They are harvested continuously to supply the domestic market, as well as for export,” he added.

The governor said the current goal is to attract investors and development partners who will finance processing facilities.

“This will enable us to improve the quality of our produce. This in turn will help the provincial economy to grow, and reduce net migration,” he said.

New techniques

Sot Sisokheang, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the provincial administration has facilitated contracts with wholesalers inside

and outside of Oddar Meanchey in order to secure consistent prices, and unlock the potential of the province’s crops.

“In addition to mobilising investors, the department will also focus on encouraging people to adopt new techniques to increase the cultivation of new crops. This will contribute to the government’s plans for poverty reduction,” he said.

According to a report by the provincial administration, Oddar Meanchey has a total area of 6,840.91sq km, which is divided into Samrong town and four districts, 24 communes and 308 villages with a total of 64,656 households.

As of March this year, 95,000ha of rice fields had been harvested, yielding 262,690 tonnes, with an average growth rate of 8.12 per cent per year. In 2022, the average growth of surplus rice was 11.34 per cent.

In addition to paddy rice, other agro-industrial crops also increased significantly. Cassava reached 70,860ha, an increase of 21.06 per cent. Cashew cultivation was 18,382ha, up 105.40 per cent.