A programme launched last year to boost agricultural production in eight key provinces is expected to produce more than 5,000 tonnes of chemical-free vegetables in 2018, twice as much as last year’s production, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
‘Boosting Food Projection 2017-2019’ is a government programme with a budget of $20 million, half of which is going towards vegetable production, with the other half used for rice. Eight provinces are targeted by the initiative: Kandal, Battambang, Pursat, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap.
Kean Sophea, deputy director of the Department of Horticulture and Subsidiary Crops, told Khmer Times the programme yielded 2,500 tonnes of chemical-free vegetables last year, enrolling 820 local household farmers.
This year, however, with 2,060 farmers involved, production is expected to double, Mr Sophea said.
“Production will reach 5,000 tonnes in 2018, or 400 tonnes per month,” he said.
Mr Sophea said the programme will help reduce Cambodia’s reliance on vegetable imports, explaining that demand for organic produce in the country is now at an all-time high. He said more and more farmers are implementing Good Agricultural Practices to grow healthier, safer produce.
Under the programme, organic markets are being raised in each of the eight selected provinces. “These markets will increase awareness of organic products among Cambodians,” Mr Sophea said.
He said nine markets have already been opened. On Wednesday one was inaugurated in Kampong Cham, and yesterday one more opened in Kandal province.
He said they plan to build six more during the second half of the year, including one that will open in Tboung Khum on Friday, and another one in Prey Veng next week.
Kim Savoeun, director of the Agriculture Department in Kampong Cham province, told Khmer Times the organic markets are helping increase awareness and demand for chemical-free vegetables.
“The organic market is proof that Kampong Cham can produce safe vegetables,” he said.
“It will also help us reduce our imports of foreign vegetables,” Mr Savoeun said, adding that Cambodians now spends between 150 to 200 million a year on vegetables shipped from abroad.
Attending the launch of an organic market in Kampong Cham on Wednesday, Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, said the Boosting Food Projection programme will provide key input that will be used to draft a national policy for the development of the country’s agriculture sector for the years 2019-2030.
He said the upcoming strategy will seek to modernise the industry, and increase its competiveness, sustainability and climate resilience.