Despite being challenged by natural disasters, climate change and global crises, agriculture sector contributed about 22 per cent of Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina.

Tina revealed this while chairing the ministry’s annual meeting, held on January 30 to review its work of 2023 and set goals for 2024. 

He described how agro-industries actively contribute to guaranteeing food security and stimulating economic activity for farmers across the country, as well as promoting the Kingdom’s sustained economic growth.

He explained that over the course of 2023 – in line with the fourth phase of the previous government’s Rectangular Strategy and the first phase of the incumbent government’s Pentagonal Strategy – ministry officials successfully implemented several new policies and action plans.

The minister also highlighted the importance of the fifth and sixth priorities of the Pentagonal Strategy’s six key priority programmes.

He said the ministry is working to accelerate the development of the agricultural sector in order for it to become a strong driving force, but noted that the sector is still facing some challenges.

He affirmed the ministry’s willingness to address these challenges in a comprehensive, timely and effective manner.

“They include high costs of production and limited production support facilities, such as mesh greenhouses, low-cost irrigation systems, grain dryers, warehouses and processing facilities. The commercialisation of key agricultural products has yet to stimulate their full potential,” he said.

Tina reiterated that in response to these challenges, the ministry would continue to apply two principles guaranteed food security and sustainability.

Hong Vanak, an economist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, noted that the agricultural sector remains a key driving force for national economic growth.

He said agricultural products play an important role in meeting domestic demands while also being exported in increasing numbers, but the ministry needs to stimulate the development of new, high-end products.

“If we can increase agricultural production, both in terms of cultivation and fish farming, through the use of smart technology, it would be excellent. I believe the Cambodian government is making strong efforts to respond to the current global situation,” he said.

According to the ministry, 57.1 per cent of the agro-sector was crop production in 2023, with fisheries making up 24.8 per cent. Animal production totalled 11.2 per cent, while forestry made up seven per cent. It noted that crops and fisheries products drove exports within the sector, while the majority of the meat produced in the Kingdom is consumed domestically.

The ministry set the 2024 goal of achieving 37.21 million tonnes of all kinds of agricultural crops and exporting 10.24 million tonnes of agricultural crops. It also laid out plans to establish two modern agricultural communities.