Cambodia’s sluggish livestock industry that was once shrouded in profound poverty is now being commended as a sunrise business.
It may even take the shine out of the garment sector, the Kingdom’s major revenue generator, if only the livestock industry players maintain the growth momentum.
There are reasons to support the new-found optimism ‑ enterprising livestock producers could eventually alter the rural poverty dynamics.
Cambodia’s 16 million people are consuming more meat due to rising income and poor rural livestock producers are shifting from producing for their own needs to trading, due to vibrant market demand – thus reshaping the once backyard industry into a flourishing commercial business.
The country’s animal production numbers are impressive as well.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 2016-2017 Report, the total animal production was 40.3 million heads in 2015, but a year later it rose to 42.18 million heads – buffaloes production jumped by 41 percent, swine grew by 7.07 percent and poultry increased by 3.52 percent.
“Development of urban (population), economic growth, change in people’s eating (habits) and growing population will increase demand for meat,” said the ministry’s report.
On average, Cambodia’s meat consumption per person per year stands at 16.13 kg, relatively low compared to neighbouring countries like Malaysia, where consumption is 52.3 kg per person per year.
The ministry projects meat consumption to swell to 290,000 tonnes this year and about 300,000 tonnes of meat would be needed by 2020, and this is certain as Cambodia’s population growth is estimated at about 1.5 percent annually.
Cambodians spent a staggering amount on imported meat, reported to be about $100 million in 2016.
“Meat consumption is growing in Cambodia as income rises and we see the industry expanding as well, because of the entry of international and local feed millers who have established manufacturing plants in Cambodia.
“Besides an increase in meat consumption among locals, the increase in tourists flow into the country is also driving up the demand for meat,” Andrew Siow, director of AMB Tarsus Exhibitions Sdn Bhd, the company involved in organising the Agrilivestock Cambodia 2018, told The Post on Wednesday.
Sustained economic growth, strong consumer spending, government’s ambitious plan to revitalise the sector, modernising animal husbandry, improving animal health management, and entry of foreign companies, are likely to catapult the fledgling sector to new heights.
“As an emerging economy in Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s feed and livestock production industry is ripe with business opportunities,” said Suraichai Chaicompa, Managing Director of Big Dutchman (Myanmar), a global livestock equipment company.
Livestock sector remains crucial in any developing economy, as it provides food security for the nation, a source of protein for healthy diet, generates rural employment and helps in poverty alleviation, thus contributing to overall rural society’s prosperity.
The three-day exhibition is expected to draw together local and foreign companies and industry experts, who will share their knowledge, promote latest technologies related to livestock and most importantly in animal health management.
“Time is excellent. The industry needs to adjust through modernisation, from previously a backyard farming industry to a modern and commercial farming to face future challenges.
“The objective of the conference is to update livestock farmers on the latest development in managing virulent diseases in Cambodia and latest equipment, (animal) health products and feed products,” added Andrew.
About 60 booths, 80 percent of which are international companies, will take part in the expo that is slated from November 1 to 3 and the Diamond Island Exhibition and Convention Centre will host the event.
Major livestock industry players such as China, India, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands and the United States will showcase their latest technologies at the third edition of the exhibition.
Along the exhibition, the Cambodia Animal Health Conference 2018 will be held, where specialists will debate on issues and challenges in managing virulent diseases.