Agricultural policy and administration

Agriculture in Cambodia supports around 40 percent of the people.1 The size of the sector means that policies developed here have a significant impact on the whole country.2

Photograph: Iorena Pajares, November 24 2007. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-ShareAlike2.0.Generic

Woman in the rice field. Photo by Iorena Pajares, taken on November 24 2007. Licensed under: CC_BY_NC_SA 2.0

Agricultural policy and administration is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). There is close liaison with other ministries and national bodies where agriculture intersects with sectors such as industry, transport and trade.

Policy is focused on increasing skills and knowledge, productivity, diversification, processing capacity, storage, distribution and marketing. The government is reportedly aiming for agribusiness to make up 30% of GDP by 2025. It was 24% in 2013.3The National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018 aims to raise the average value added per ha for all crops from US$ 997/ha in 2007 to US$ 1,450/ha in 2018. Currently, a significant volume of Cambodia’s agricultural products are exported to neighboring countries, where they are processed and then re-exported to other countries.4

Cambodia has significant room for growth in other areas too such as crop yields. A 2014 study by the Asian Development Bank, https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/77825/improving-rice-production-cambodia_3.pdf, found that Cambodia’s average rice yield ranks the lowest among almost all Southeast Asian nations. The study concluded that growing agricultural productivity required strengthened land titling and skills development, and improved access to finance.5

Policy direction

The National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018 outlines the overall policy approach to agriculture in this way: “RGC’s vision is to modernize Cambodia’s agriculture based on a new approach and with changed scope and pace, to transform this sector from primarily depending on expanded use of available resources (such as land and other natural resources) and traditional agricultural inputs, into one which primarily depends on the application of techniques, new technologies, mechanization and irrigation to improve the yield rate, and diversify activities into high value crops, livestock, and aquaculture in an environmentally sustainable manner.”6

This is a clear policy shift from the growth in the last decade that came largely from farmland expansion.7Except for rice, the agroprocessing industry played a limited role.

The government has targeted agricultural growth of 5% per annum in the National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018 (incidentally, a rate significantly below the growth forecast in the industrial and service sectors).8 If Cambodia can achieve this, then by 2030 its agriculture sector will be smaller but more productive. Agriculture’s share in GDP and total labor force would fall while land productivity would increase from $1,300/ha to $2,700/ha and labor productivity would rise from $1,200/person to $3,700/person.9

The World Bank suggests strong growth and a good outcome are possible if Cambodia’s agricultural sector follows four sets of policies:

  • Maintaining a private sector-friendly policy environment
  • Strengthening environmental sustainability
  • Improving the quality of agricultural public programs and, where possible, increasing allocations to more effective programs
  • Helping develop the agribusiness and agroprocessing industry.10

Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015–2025

Agricultural development is a key element of the Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015–2025.11There are four priorities – the development of the agro-industry; small and medium enterprises; transport and logistics; and skills training and worker development. The Council for the Development of Cambodia will oversee the implementation of the policy.

Targets in the policy include:

  • Increasing agriculture-processing exports to 12%, a 4% increase on the projected figure for 2015
  • Formalizing Cambodia’s small and medium enterprises
  • Building expressways on key routes for faster transport of goods
  • MAFF will establish areas similar to special economic zones, but for farming.

Agricultural extension policy

Announced in May 2015, this policy aims to make knowledge and technology accessible to farming communities, thus increasing productivity.12It will be overseen by staff from the Department of Agricultural Extension, working with development partners and the private sector. At the time the policy was announced there were only 70 extension officers at the national level and less than 1000 at the provincial level. At least 2000 will be needed.

Policy implementation will follow five steps: strengthening the regulatory framework around extension, building staff capacity, developing affordable and practical farming techniques, enhanced information and information delivery.

Crop-specific policies

In addition to broader strategic and policy work there are crop-specific strategies and policies, such as the Policy on the Promotion of Paddy Production and Rice Export and Cambodia Natural Rubber Development Strategy 2011–2020.

Last updated: 09 June 2016

References

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