He told a press conference that the Kingdom exported 1.9 million tonnes of agricultural products in the first five months of the year, up 7.35 per cent compared to the same period last year, with milled rice topping the list.
Ministry data show that the Kingdom exported 4.87 million tonnes of agricultural products to the international market last year – more than four million tonnes to Asean countries, 430,000 to China, 261,000 to the EU and 135,000 to other countries.
Cambodian agricultural products are sought after by more than 60 countries. The EU purchases 17 types of products, Asean countries buy 42 types and China procures 26 types.
Chhay, the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture, said that official export figures were compiled from phytosanitary certificates, and that unofficial exports may have pushed it higher.
As the government gives it higher priority, the agricultural sector continues to develop, improving the livelihoods of farmers and ensuring food safety and security for the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
But with the additional exports, growers must not neglect farming standards and hygiene, he warned.
Kandal provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Bun Tuon Simona told The Post on Sunday that Cambodia’s agricultural output will see significant gains fuelled by government policy aimed at moving toward agricultural independence.
This will enhance the Kingdom’s ability to export agricultural products to foreign markets and reduce imports from neighbouring countries, he said.
“Through encouragement and motivation on the end of the government and the ministry, I foresee that agricultural production in Cambodia will rise even higher,” he said.
He noted that Kandal province does not have much land available for agricultural development.
The incorporation of some of its communes into Phnom Penh, the conversion of agricultural areas into residential areas and the construction of the new Phnom Penh international airport have whittled away the available land, he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post last month that he and the ministry are encouraging and assisting investors and farmers in strengthen and expand their operations, acknowledging that inadequate irrigation infrastructure remains a concern.
Cambodia’s agricultural sector plays a vital role in promoting national economic growth, and now more so, as many countries around the world suffer from food shortages stemming from the pandemic, he said.
The sector has also shifted more attention to aquaculture and animal husbandry, he said.
Chhay said the total agricultural land area used for farming in the Kingdom last year was about 4.88 million hectares.
Of the amount, paddy was grown on 3.88 million hectares, cassava was grown on about 650,000ha, cashew nuts on 230,000ha, red corn on 200,000ha, mango on 120,000ha, yellow bananas on more than 40,000ha, Pailin longan on nearly 10,000ha and pepper on more than 2,000ha, Ngin Chhay said. - The Phnom Penh Post/Asian News Network