The government has disbursed more than $4.5 million to boost aquaculture production and domestic market supply amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Monday that in boosting agricultural production, the ministry has received financing from development partners and direct government funding to support more than 6,000 frog and catfish farmers across the Kingdom.
Of the $4.68 million, he said the Ministry of Economy and Finance has allocated $500,000 to support farmers raising catfish and frogs in plastic tents that provide short-term benefits in 10 provinces – Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, Kampong Speu and Pailin.
“This special government-funded package will focus on 1,000 catfish farmers and 700 frog farmers. It will also be used to strengthen the ability of 50 families to produce 50 species of catfish,” he said.
Sakhon said the ministry has also received $1.12 million in financing for 1,000 catfish farmers and 1,000 frog farmers in 10 other provinces – Takeo, Kampong Cham, Battambang, Siem Reap, Pursat, Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom and Banteay Meanchey.
The project – Cambodia Programme for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in the Fisheries Sector – is financed by the EU and managed by Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD).
It will be implemented through the one-year Cat-Fish-Sustainable Fisheries sector and Aquaculture Inclusive Growth Promoted Programme in Cambodia.
The Fisheries Administration has also submitted a request to the World Bank for $3.05 million in concessional financing for the Cambodian Aquaculture Enhancement Project, which aims to support farmers during and after the pandemic.
The project will provide technical assistance to 2,000 families raising catfish and frogs in plastic tents and support about 260 medium-sized farmers in Phnom Penh and 12 target provinces – Kampong Chhnang, Battambang, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kandal, Kampong Speu.
Sakhon said the ministry will help coordinate shift feeding so production does not glut domestic market demand.
“The raising of catfish and frogs shows yields immediately, which is a golden opportunity for farmers to earn an everyday income,” he said.
Phuong Phearun, a catfish and frog farmer in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, told The Post that the government’s actions will boost demand for fish and frogs.
“Demand for baby frogs and catfish has increased significantly in recent years,” he said.
He also called for a curb on imports of meat and fish from neighbouring countries to promote local products.
“Local farmers now have a better understanding of feeding techniques and they are more interested in this business,” he said.
He noted that since the border closure due to Covid-19, most farmers have increased production for local supply. The 30-year-old said he sells an average of 8,000 baby fish and 5,000 frogs per month.
According to a ministry report, Cambodia exported 9,190 tonnes of fresh fish last year, equivalent to 61.27 per cent of the 15,000-tonne plan. This represents a decrease of 310 tonnes compared to 2018.
Processed fishery output reached 4,910 tonnes last year, or 98.2 per cent of the 5,000-tonne plan – a decrease of 90 tonnes compared to the previous year.
Freshwater fisheries harvests reached 478,850 tonnes last year, while marine fish reached 122,250 tonnes. Aquaculture, fish and shrimp farming accounted for 307,408 tonnes.