Report: Farmers Need Better Roads, Marketing to Compete

Better support systems, from technical assistance to marketing, are needed to develop the country’s agriculture sector, said a report issued this week by the Center for Social Development.

The report by the local NGO says the government’s agriculture extension offices should take a more active role in teaching new farming and fishing techniques while other government institutions promote agriculture-related businesses to help export Cambodian products.

“Problems for farmers are a lack of communication, a lack of technical assistance, a lack of markets and change of climate,” said Chea Vannath, executive director of the center, which organized a one-day public forum on agro-industrial products in Battambang last year.

“These things make it harder for them to survive. Farmers who are already poor will be poorer in a free-market without subsidies from the government,” she said.

The suggestions, based on findings at the public forum, will be sent to senior government officials this week for review.

Farmers said poor rural road networks make transporting goods to major markets difficult and agricultural goods often rot before they get to market be­cause of a lack of village warehouses.

Inferior rice seed prevents local farmers from competing with foreign rice growers, some forum participants said. One participant said the government should help farmers market their goods.

“It should not be up to the people to find markets by themselves,” the participant said.

Participants said Cambodia should take advantage of trade privileges such as Most Favored Nation status granted by industrial countries. The status allows more than 100 Cambodian products to be exported to other countries without paying trade taxes.

The center will host another public forum on labor issues in Sihanoukville next week.


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