Once the backbone of Cambodia’s economy, agricultural growth is slowing. It stood at 7.2% between 2003 and 2007 and 4.5% between 2008 and 2012 but has hovered around 1% in recent years. In 2019, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors contributed just 20.7% to the country’s gross domestic product, compared to 28.8% in 2014. The drop in labor force to 32.2% of Cambodia’s total workforce last year from 45.9% in 2014 further highlighted a slowdown.
Experts attribute the decline in production to low productivity and the detrimental effects of climate change. In 2017 alone, Cambodia suffered damage to 8,646 hectares of maize-planted land from floods and droughts.
As climate change intensifies, experts warn that farmers may have to endure more intense and prolonged droughts and floods, which could jeopardize their harvests and affect their livelihoods. These come as an added burden to other issues such as insufficient access to credit and water as well as pandemic-related border closures.