Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said Cambodia only imported vegetables that grow in colder climates, not the sort that Cambodians can grow themselves here.

Sakhon made the statement in a press release on April 21 in response to criticism made by Som Chhaya, general manager of local TV station PNN, who said the ministry still allows vegetable imports when local vegetables have no buyers.

Chhaya said he made the statement with the hope that the ministry would heed his call and stop the importation of vegetables as it is hurting Cambodian farmers.

However, Sakhon said that this critique wasn’t accurate and devalued the efforts the government had made to help farmers grow agricultural products with higher demand and diversify the markets they have access to.

He said Cambodia does not have any shortage of domestically grown vegetables, and that farmers are harvesting their crops as usual, but the problem right now is transporting those vegetables into Phnom Penh during the lockdown.

Sakhon further explained that during the lockdown many vegetable farmers in Kandal and Mondulkiri province who had vegetable supply contracts with markets in Phnom Penh had encountered difficulties in bringing their organic products to market on time like they normally do and that this has lead to temporary shortages of some vegetables in the markets.