The General Directorate of Agriculture is working on developing new weather-resistant crop varieties for distribution to farmers, while the agriculture ministry is committed to assisting cultivators in finding markets for their produce, according to the senior official from the authority.

Im Rachna, undersecretary of state and spokesperson for the agriculture ministry, acknowledged the undeniable impact of climate change on crops during a study tour at the warehouse of O’Korki Cashew Collection Agricultural Community in the Dar commune of Kratie province’s Chitr Borei district.

“The ministry, through the general directorate, is actively researching and developing new crop varieties, particularly focusing on crops like cashews, to enhance their resilience to weather, improve quality and increase yields,” she explained.

She added that the department has introduced new varieties and is striving to connect farmers and farming communities to markets, enabling them to sell their agricultural products with higher added value and increased profit.

In Chantha, deputy director of the Department of Industrial Crops at the directorate, highlighted the challenges posed by weather on cashew crops, especially considering their seasonal nature. 

He noted that cashews usually begin flowering in November, post-rainfall, but unexpected weather changes, such as continued rains, can adversely affect them during this crucial period. 

“The primary issue is salty dew, which impacts cashew yield. Our experts are implementing techniques to mitigate this problem, thereby benefiting cashew production,” he stated.

He added that the issue of morning condensation with high levels of salt significantly decreased after the department’s experts shared techniques and trained on various methods to address it.

Ven Savin, president of the O’Korki Cashew Collection Agricultural Community, noted that climate change has negatively impacted cashew crops in recent years, leading to lower yields and higher production costs for farmers. 

She mentioned that the issue has substantially diminished following interventions by the ministry and its partners. 

“Our community has benefited from … technical training provided by the agricultural department and GIZ [Germany’s development agency], covering aspects like pruning, leaf care, flower bud management and fertiliser processing for cashews,” she said.

She noted that the community annually collects over 400 tonnes of cashew nuts from farmers, ensuring profitable returns.

Four varieties have been registered by the ministry as Cambodian cashew varieties, which other countries cannot claim as their own. These include M23, M10, IM4 and H09.

The ministry reports that the most prevalent cashew variety in the Kingdom is M23, comprising over 90 per cent of the various cashew types.