Farmers need to understand markets for their products and learn more about technology and developments in the sector to become professionals, a prominent agricultural expert said.
In an interview with The Post on May 26, Yang Saing Koma, a popular agricultural expert among Cambodian farmers for more than two decades, said most farmers are oblivious to the value of their work.
As a result, they often face endless problems such as damage to crops due to disease and pests, water and fertiliser shortages, and lack of markets for their produce.
“Farmers have a very important role to play in ensuring sustainability, food security and promoting socio-economic growth, so they need to understand not only their crops but also the latest agricultural technology and markets,” he said, adding that farmers would become professionals with these skills.
Saing Koma urged authorities in this field to assist farmers in providing training on cultivation techniques, protection against pests and diseases, and techniques to meet the demands of both domestic and foreign markets.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries secretary of state Hean Vannhorn – who is also chairman of the Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) Cambodia project – told The Post on May 26 that the ministry had provided training and technical skills to farmers.
“The ASPIRE Farmer Training Programme has been established nationwide and has been successful,” Vannhorn said.
Through this programme, farmers have developed a closer relationship with producers, providers of farm supplies and markets, with the relevant authorities acting as facilitators when problems arise.
“Most farmers have turned from traditional farming to agribusinesses,” he said.
“However, we still see some farmers producing agricultural products that are either not in high demand and are easily damaged and cannot be produced in large quantities, which leads to losses in both revenue and manpower.
“The market is not the problem, the important thing is if farmers meet demand and manage price fluctuations,” he said.
To meet market demand, farmers need to learn more about production and research prices in the market. In this way, the problem of finding markets or a price decrease can be addressed and farmers can become wealthy through agriculture.
“In commercial farming, we have to think about profit and loss. To make a profit, we need to produce more with lower costs and sell at a price that is competitive in the market,” he said.