As per reports, depending on the season, organic vegetable farmer Sem Chantha has grown spinach, cauliflower, lettuce or collard greens on her six-hectare plot of land in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. While the vast majority of Cambodian farmers normally grow rice and to a lesser extent of cassava and maize. For those that do sell their wares, very few like Chantha grow vegetables, particularly pesticide-free produce.
As indicated by the 49-year-old farmer that vegetables can be sold for a higher price than rice and it takes only one and a half months to yield and it is ready to harvest, while paddy rice take six months to yield. Further, the imported vegetables don’t taste as good as locally grown ones. Like the collard greens, if locally grown, it tastes sweet while the imported ones are having plain taste.
According to a recent study from the World Bank, strong growth in Cambodia’s agriculture sector has helped to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line from 7 million in 2007 to 3 million in 2012. However, land cultivation for rice farming, has slowed to between 1 and 2 percent in the past two years.
As it has been stated that since farmland becoming harder to find, the World Bank says that Cambodian growers need to focus on getting greater yields from their input and diversifying their crops with an eye to increase productivity. Therefore, the bank emphasizes for vegetables, which fetch returns on average of $1,575 per hectare for small farmers while comparing to $544 per hectare of cassava and $307 per hectare in case of rice.