Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina on March 27 asked the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham) to work with European banks to look into providing greater access to low-interest loans for Cambodian individuals and entities, with a focus on setting the bar for production standards to boost the competitiveness of local produce on European markets.

This came during a bilateral meeting between the minister and EuroCham president Tassilo Brinzer, in which the former advocated for the promotion of good agricultural practices (GAP) and support for key crops for high-quality and sustainable agriculture.

Tina affirmed that his ministry is on standby to encourage and assist the private sector, including by sending specialists to train farmers in agricultural production in line with European market standards and introduce them to contract farming as well as the associated guarantees.

Cambodia Safe Fish, Meat and Vegetables Association vice-president Sok Yorn told The Post on March 27 that there has been little in the way of momentum behind cultivation in the Kingdom, and that harvests are not particularly profitable, despite the government’s efforts to boost crop production.

He blamed farmers’ low selling prices of crops on the high volume of imports from bordering countries, as well as a general lack of adequate knowledge concerning cultivation technologies and methods, subsequent care, and seed selection.

Regardless, with technical support, capital, and better markets, farmers could grow more crops and thereby fuel exports, he opined, arguing that the quality of Cambodian produce is generally “good and acceptable”.

Making matters worse, Yorn added, farmers and investors in the Cambodian agricultural industry frequently struggle to obtain loans from banking institutions due to high interest rates and stringent collateral requirements.

However, Tina has assured that his ministry will continue to pave the way for low-interest loans and improve farmer-to-market linkages through contract farming. He said as much during his ministry’s annual meeting, on March 24.