Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday called on farmers to increase production as domestic demand continues to rise.
Speaking at a press conference on Covid-19 held at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen said the pandemic has caused a global economic slowdown and impacted regional economies, including Cambodia.
Noting that the ongoing pandemic has mainly affected the service and industrial sectors, he said agriculture has the opportunity to increase production.
The call comes after the government announced bans on the exports of paddy and white rice, as well fish and fishery products to ensure the Kingdom’s supply during the health crisis.
“I call on the people to boost farming. Grow vegetables and other crops – raise animals and fish to supply the domestic market during these tough times. I think our people are capable of the additional production.
“Of course, the tourism and garment sectors have been impacted, but that shouldn’t affect the agricultural sector.
“On the contrary, this is an opportunity for the agricultural sector to boost production – it requires our people to farm and raise food, vegetables and meat to meet market demand,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister called on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and relevant stakeholders to guide farmers on raising animals and growing vegetables where there is a market need.
“We have to transform these trying times into an opportunity to enhance productivity in the agricultural sector, which had previously been slow.
“In the past, growth in the service and industrial sectors had been very high while very low in agriculture. In the near future, the agricultural sector will enjoy a sharp increase and the opportunity is at hand,” he said.
In December, ministry secretary-general Khy Kosal said financial institutions invest less in agriculture because there are still many challenges related to irrigation.
He said with Cambodia’s agricultural sector, the water system is important so there is a need to have higher investments.
“If in the future the government, through the Ministry of Economy and Finance, considers adjusting public investment and broadens it to water resources, farmers will get greater access to finance,” he said.
At the same time, Kosal also suggested that all farmers and investors should study market demands and comply with it.
Ministry data shows that 78 per cent of Cambodia lives in the countryside and depends on the agricultural sector, which generates one-third of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 40 per cent of the workforce.
The agricultural sector accounted for 23.5 per cent of the Kingdom’s GDP in 2018, 1.4 percentage points lower than in 2017, the data shows. Of the sector’s GDP that year, the crop subsector accounted for 58.1 per cent, animal production 11.1 per cent, fisheries 24.1 per cent and forestry 6.7 per cent.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) last week downgraded its economic projection for the Kingdom to 2.3 per cent this year despite a strong growth of around seven per cent annually over the past two decades.
Its Asian Development Outlook 2020 report highlighted that Cambodia’s services sector is expected to contract by 1.7 per cent this year, as tourism drops and growth in real estate slows.
Industry growth would slow to 6.5 per cent because of a deceleration in garment production for exports and slower growth in construction. Meanwhile, agricultural growth would fall to around 0.5 per cent.