New Agriculture StrategyAccording to information indicated by the Agriculture Ministry in Cambodia, a new strategy for developing the sector, aiming to expand exports of agricultural products to spur economic growth through sustainable farming practices has been launched.  Agriculture Minister Mr Ouk Rabun said the government has implemented many strategies and development plans to boost the agriculture sector to ensure food safety, to generate jobs and to increase revenue for farmers who comprise the majority of the Kingdom’s population. It has been stated that “Advancement in the agricultural sector is the key to reducing poverty and increasing GDP and economic growth.

Further, it has been reported by the officials that the five-year Agricultural Sector Strategy Development Plan specifies policy goals and objectives, expected development outcomes, and lists the activities the Ministry will implement. The document also reflects the government’s policy direction for agriculture according to its Rectangular Strategy for Growth Phase-III, and also aligns with the National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018. Both schemes continue to promote the enhancement of agricultural productivity, diversification and commercialization, according to the report of the five-year plan.

According to Mr Song Saran, president of Amru Rice Cambodia  that although it was good to have a strategic plan to develop agriculture in Cambodia, the plan is already out dated because the focus should be on rice production. Rice production and export needs to be addressed urgently. The government should fast-track railway rehabilitation to reduce transportation costs, lower electricity costs, offer low interest loans to the rice sector, build more storage facilities and invest in ports to ensure that Cambodian rice is competitive in export markets. Further, the government moves to reduce red tape for rice exports which were helpful but exporters from neighboring countries pay less for electricity; have plenty of warehouses, ample loans, and lower logistics costs due to their railways.

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Moreover, the Minister Ouk Rabun also informed that rice production is expanding due to intensive efforts by the government, the private sector and farmers. Rice exports are also rising. In addition, the agriculture sector has been expanding on average by 3 to 4 percent annually since 2009. Under the Agricultural Sector Strategic Development Plan 2009-2013, the ministry also addressed several key issues that were critical for the sector’s development. It promoted commercialization and encouraged contract farming and tried to give farmers protection and leverage in markets by organizing producer organizations, simplified the export process, and established and enforced sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards, as indicated in the report.