Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou recently encouraged a Chinese delegation to tap into the agricultural wealth of his province, highlighting its potential and status as the government’s recognised “fourth economic pole”, while advocating for investment in product processing to bolster the province’s economic growth. 

During his meeting with the delegation led by Ma Jun, deputy director of Yunnan’s commerce department, Lou highlighted the opportunity for a study visit in Battambang to discuss bolstering economic cooperation between the two provinces. 

He emphasised that the province holds significant potential and is considered as the fourth economic pole by the Cambodian government, linked to the fisheries and rice sectors, a connection that aims to attract both domestic and foreign investment to enhance cultivation, processing and export of aquaculture and livestock. 

“Although Battambang has great agricultural potential, investment in … processing is still limited, so we still need more investors to boost the availability of processed products in the province,” he said.

Ma said the two provinces share a long history of close ties, noting that they have similarities in the construction of ancient buildings and in certain agricultural products.

“Battambang is a province blessed with a favourable climate suitable for agriculture. We hope this will foster stronger trade and economic ties between Battambang and Yunnan,” he said.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, noted the current scarcity of investors or companies setting up processing plants. 

He pointed out that if the Chinese delegation invests in processing, it would present an important opportunity as the province’s products, such as mangoes, lentils, Pailin longan and pineapple have historically exceeded market demand. 

He noted the benefits to farmers with plantations, as it could stabilise prices and generate additional income and benefits when factories are established. 

“Thus, people can earn more money to support their family and daily living. I think our government will also benefit from tax income, especially taxes on factories that establish their production in our country,” he added.

Earlier this year, Shindo Shigeharu Shop Co Ltd, a leading food producer from the Ehime prefecture in Japan, visited Battambang to study and explore the potential of the sector before committing to invest in the province to process products such as fruits and vegetables, as per the provincial administration.