The establishment of modern agricultural communities will attract increased foreign investment to the sector, as they will be capable of guaranteeing the supply of raw materials and processed goods, said a senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. 

Im Rachna, undersecretary of state and spokeswoman for the ministry, made the remarks during a four-day study tour of the Cambodian cashew production chain from November 29 to December 2 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Thom, Kratie and Stung Treng.

According to the spokeswoman, the ministry has put important policies in place under the seventh-mandate government, including the creation of modern agricultural community clusters for cashew cultivation. The community will include farmers and buyers, and aims to make production and supply proportional, at acceptable prices.

She explained that the communities will operate as agricultural cooperatives, much like a company with executives, accountants and other staff. All of them will have a clear understanding of the value chain for cashews, and will sign production contracts with farmers.

“When farmers sign contracts with the communities that we will establish in the future, we will be able to ensure that they will supply the precise quality and quantities that the community needs to process and sell both domestically and abroad,” she said.

Rachna added that although there are still some challenges in cashew enterprises, such as production and capital to buy raw cashew nuts for further processing, these problems will be solved by the establishment of the communities. In addition, through the fifth and sixth priority policies, the government has also introduced financing for farmers and agricultural communities.

“Once we implement this policy, we believe it will completely solve the problem and give investors the confidence to invest more capital in cashew production,” she continued.

Guenter Wessel, a multi-project manager at Germany’s development agency GIZ, said it plans to implement a new four-year project, CAPSAFE, in 2024. Funded by the EU, it will focus on boosting Cambodia’s agricultural value chains, including for cashew and pepper. The project will also help significantly in terms of standards, quality and production of farmers through agricultural communities, as well as supporting the government’s new policies.

“All of the sectors that the new project will support will attract investors to create a wide range of additional processing operations in Cambodia,” he said.

Bryan Fornari, head of the EU cooperation unit, explained that Cambodian pepper and cashew have a lot of potential, in terms of the quantity and quality that Cambodia is capable of processing and exporting to global markets, including Europe.

He said that through the CAPSAFE project, the EU and GIZ will work with all stakeholders, including cashew growers and the Cambodia Cashew Federation (CCF), as well as cashew agricultural communities and all relevant state institutions.

“We will do our best to help investment in the cashew processing sector. The next step will be to attract investors in Europe to help buy and export cashew products to the European market,” he added.