How to Boost Cambodia's Agriculture ?

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How to Boost Cambodia's Agriculture ?

Post by CEOCambodiaNews » Sat May 23, 2020 7:04 am

‘Cambodia’s agricultural sector is in dire need of revitalisation’
With the stalwarts of the Cambodian economy, tourism and garments, set to be decimated by the economic downturn, Prime Minister HE has called on agriculture to step in and pick up the slack. A badly neglected sector struggling to survive with outdated methods, technology and extreme weather events, how can this be done?
Nith Kosal
May 21, 2020
This op-ed has been written by Future Forum, an independent Cambodia-based public policy think-tank. The views in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Southeast Asia Globe.
In this time of uncertainty, one thing about Covid-19 is clear. This pandemic will lead to a sharp and unprecedented decline in Cambodian economic productivity. And the industrial and service sectors will be the hardest hit.

In response to the pandemic and to the economic crisis it will cause in Cambodia, Prime Minister HE has indicated that he is counting on the agricultural sector to help make up for these shortfalls. In multiple public statements, the Prime Minister has urged farmers to increase their production in order to boost supply for the local market and to stimulate economic growth.

But is this expectation – that the agricultural industry will be able to pick up the economic slack – realistic given the chronic challenges Cambodian farmers face even in non-pandemic years?

The reality on the ground in Cambodia tells a clear story. While the sector remains a crucial component of the Cambodian economy – representing US$5.47 billion or 22% of GDP in 2018 – agriculture’s contribution to the GDP has been on the decline for the past five years. The average annual growth rate for the agricultural sector was 1.07% between 2013 and 2018. For context, compare that with the growth rates of the industrial sector, which grew at a rate of 10.48%, and the service sector, which grew at a rate of 7.5%, over the same period.

Shortcomings in technology, machinery and expertise have obvious consequences. Compared with its neighbours in the region, for example, Cambodia’s farming operations are labour and capital intensive, while production is relatively low.

For example, in 2013 Cambodia used 28 days per person to harvest one hectare of dry season rice, while Thailand used only 9 days per person per hectare and Vietnam’s farmers used 21 days. The difference is even more stark when it comes to wet season rice. Cambodia used 47 days per person to harvest one hectare, while Thailand used 11 days per person per hectare and Vietnam used 21 days.

And consider Cambodia’s harvest efficiency. That same 2013 research found Cambodian labour can harvest 180 kilogrammes of dry season rice per day and 60 kilogrammes of wet season rice per day. Whereas in Thailand, a worker can harvest 530 kilogrammes of dry season rice and 480 kilogrammes of wet season rice per day, and a Vietnames farmer can harvest 390 kilogrammes of dry season rice and 280 kilogrammes of wet season rice per day.

And, in terms of land productivity, Cambodia is falling short. In 2016, Cambodian farmers achieved 3,459.9 kilogrammes of cereal yield per hectare. That’s compared with 4,626.7 kilogrammes per hectare in Laos, and 5,448 kilogrammes per hectare in Vietnam in that same year.
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Re: How to Boost Cambodia's Agriculture ?

Post by AndyKK » Sat May 23, 2020 8:51 am

Yes it will be more relevant with possible food shortages on the horizon, before there was not too much encouragement or help with pricings in many areas of the farming sector, but with China buying, and imports possibly limiting of stock, where the big people made their cash for many years.
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Re: How to Boost Cambodia's Agriculture ?

Post by Duncan » Sat May 23, 2020 9:51 am

I think the difference in production and harvesting time per farmer could easily be explained if there was a breakdown of whether machinery was used . With larger areas of land it is easier to use machinery, whereas smaller plots like in Cambodia it is to hard to manoeuvre machines around. Then there is the costs of buying machinery to plant and harvest small plots and have it sit around for months deteriorating and not being used

If you really wanted to make Cambodian rice production look bad you could compare it to Australian or USA production per farmer.
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