Imports Eat Local Farmers’ Market Share

prek ampil commune, Kandal Province – Like other farmers here, Ham Neang felt at a loss when her newly harvested sugar cane and radishes languished on her farm.

“Nobody wants to buy my sugar canes and radishes this year. I do not know where I should sell them,” the 51-year-old farmer lamented. “We are waiting for buyers from town, but nobody has showed up yet.”

Many villagers expressed similar concerns, blaming a free-market economy that has introduced better and cheaper crops from neighboring countries.

“I heard that so many kinds of agricultural products are imported from Thailand and Viet­nam that local products are stuck in the farm,” said 30-year-old farmer Sum Sath.

Agriculture officials said they have heard the complaints, but say they can’t quantify it, much less tackle it.

“My friends told me over the phone that it is difficult to find a market for their products,” said Srey Vuthy, marketing director for the Agriculture Ministry. “But we are not sure what is happening because we don’t have enough money to travel to provinces to survey the situation.”

The ministry’s marketing department conducted a nationwide marketing survey in 1997 with the UN Food and Agri­culture Organization, but nothing has been done since, the director said.

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