Surrounded by lettuce, cabbage, carrots, radishes and sweet peppers grown organically on her farm in Kompong Speu province, Eng Vong welcomed visitors to her stall at the local produce exhibition held in Phnom Penh last weekend.
Eng Vong, 42, is one of more than 100 small-holding farmers in Kompong Speu who are being taught to diversify agricultural production by a European Union-sponsored project called Asia Urbs. Projects like these formed the centerpiece of the Commerce Ministry’s exhibition, which was intended to show off domestically grown produce suitable for distribution at home and abroad.
“My vegetables are fresh, and we don’t use chemicals,” Eng Vong said. “The price is cheaper than imported vegetables, and I am earning more now than I did when I was using traditional methods.”
Ministry of Commerce Director General Mao Thura said the produce exhibition was part of a wider scheme to raise the quality of “made in Cambodia” products to export standards.
“If Cambodian products are poor quality, the ministry and NGOs will help to improve them by training manufacturers in better production methods,” he said.
The produce exhibition was the first of its kind in Cambodia, but Mao Thura said his ministry will be asking provincial commercial departments to organize their own exhibitions to stimulate competition for the domestic market.
Kompong Cham province Governor Chheang Am said he would be glad of the opportunity to exhibit—and export—the produce grown in his area. Kompong Cham currently produces rubber, cassava, sugar cane, beans, cashew nuts, chilies and bananas, and is home to three processing plants, according to Chheang Am.
“We have the material in place,” Chheang Am said. “Now we need investors to come and set up more factories.”