The Supreme National Economic Council is collecting input on a plan to establish special agro-industry zones.

The council met on July 24 with representatives of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce to discuss a “feasibility study to establish the special zone for special agro-industrial sectors.”

The meeting served to examine the possibility of creating special zones for agro-industrial processing plant clusters for domestic consumption and export.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on Sunday that the establishment of special zones for the agro-industrial sector would be an important part of agricultural diversification and promote the production and processing of domestic agricultural products.

Heng said concentrating the location of planting, production, packaging and distribution in one place will provide convenience and has been the desire of the private sector for a long time.

He said special zones for agro-industrial products may not be as large as special economic zones and can be built on a small scale in provinces and even villages and communes.

While the government is currently encouraging investment in the agro-industrial sector, Heng said the creation of special zones will contribute to job creation and food security.

“This is a good sign for farmers and those who want to invest in the agro-industry,” Heng said.

Cambodia Rice Federation vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post the creation of a special zone for the agro-industrial sector would help increase Cambodia’s rice production capacity to another level.

But he said special zones would be particularly beneficial for weaker agricultural sectors.

“Although it does not help the rice sector much, I fully support the idea of creating a special zone for agro-industry because it is an important part of supporting the increase in production capacity,” he said.

In the first three months of the year, Cambodia exported a total of 2.93 million tonnes of agricultural products, including paddy, milled rice, cassava, corn, cashew, banana and mango and rubber, said a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report.