Prime Minister Hun Sen has advised that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries increase production of Phka Rumduol rice seed in order to distribute it to any farmer who wishes to grow it and increase its market share.

The premier also announced the provision of 100 rice transplanters to the ministry, to be given out to the agricultural cooperatives that are the main producers of the rice seeds needed to grow it.

Hun Sen was addressing the annual meeting of the ministry, held on March 24.

“As for the production of rice seeds, I advise [farmers to produce] genetically-pure Phka Rumduol rice seed at a level that adequately meets market needs. In furtherance of this work, I will provide 100 rice transplanters to the agriculture ministry for it to give to cooperatives which produce this rice seed variety,” he said.

He continued that the development of genetically-pure plants and pure-bred animals for agriculture is necessary in order to meet market demands for types that are resistant to weather, pests and climate change and remain highly productive in a broad range of conditions, so it is a necessary investment by the ministry.

He advised the ministry to push for progress in developing more of these varieties by the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the private sector and encourage their prompt registration with the government.

He also advised relevant officials to continue to promote the agricultural sector in an inclusive and sustainable manner. He said the sector must remain resilient to climate change, and the development of agriculture must be done in an environmentally clean and green way to meet modern market demands.

He added that the Ministry of Commerce has to help the agriculture ministry evaluate the market needs abroad on a regular basis and cooperate to coordinate the supply of these markets for produce at home and overseas.

He also said that poor families will be given priority for inclusive agricultural development so that they are able to engage in stable and intensive farming.

He also advised the agriculture ministry to pay attention to maintaining the quality of soil and use water sparingly through energy efficient irrigation systems.

He also instructed the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to store water for the dry season and make timely predictions about floods.

Hun Sen also pushed for the acceleration of plans to mobilise investors at home and overseas to produce, process and export agricultural products, aquaculture and livestock produced in the Kingdom’s “Fish and Rice Corridor” to Chinese and international markets.

“We have to seriously plan and choose which agricultural officials to send to communes across the country as soon as the government is elected and the seventh legislature is formed. We all have to implement the National Policy on Cashew Nuts to make Cambodia the king of cashew nuts.

“To be in line with this goal, the relevant ministries and institutions have to examine their roles and duties and go about their work energetically,” he enthused.

Agriculture minister Dith Tina said that in 2022 the Kingdom’s crops reached 34 million tonnes cultivated, including over 11 million tonnes of rice, which represented a surplus of six million tonnes. There were also 4.4 million tonnes of horticultural crops and 18 million tonnes of industrial crops produced.

He added that, in the past year, Cambodia has formally exported around 8.6 million tonnes of agricultural products worth nearly $5 billion to 74 markets, representing an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2021.

Included in that total are the 637,000 tonnes of milled rice that was exported, up 3.23 per cent compared to 2021, and the 5.78 million tonnes of other agricultural products exported represented an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to 2021.

“Overall, the agricultural sector contributed 22.2 per cent to the gross domestic product. The agriculture ministry released two new varieties of rice: Champei Sar 70 and Kangrei, both of them just recently bred. Champei Sar 70 is a fast-growing fragrant rice, which is ready for harvesting between 93-97 days after cultivation. It yields from 3.2 to 4.9 tonnes per hectare,” he explained.

“Kangrei’s maturity period is even shorter, from 78 to 84 days. It can be grown in any season and produces between 4.3 and 7.1 tonnes per hectare,” he emphasised.