Rice production continued modest rises during the 2009 to 2010 season, reaching a total of 7.58 million tons of unmilled rice, while last year’s fish catch was also up, and the area under rubber cultivation expanded by about 20 percent, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a new report.
The report on “agricultural achievements” said 7.58 million tons of rice had been harvested during the most recent growing season, adding this resulted in a rice surplus of 3.5 million tons.
In the 2008-2009 season, total rice production stood at 7.17 million tons, according to the report, which was released Wednesday.
The average rice yield among Cambodia’s farmers, most of whom cultivate their rice without irrigation, grew from 2.74 tons per hectare in the last season, to 2.83 tons per hectare in this season, according to the report, which also noted a sharp increase in rubber plantations, which now cover a total area of 129,920 hectares, a 20.4 percent jump compared to 200.
Secretary of State Lim Sokun said the annual rice yield had increased because of good rains and improved farm techniques among farmers.
Small farmers own around 60,000 hectares of rubber plantations, the report states, adding that the trend of increasing rubber production fitted with the government’s goal of putting 150,000 hectares of land under rubber cultivation by 2015.
Mr Sokun said the increase in rubber cultivation resulted from growing levels of investment in the sector.
“The price of rubber is high,” he said, adding farmers had cleared cashew and other plantations to switch to rubber due to its lucrative price levels.
“Rubber trees take longer to grow, but farmers will enjoy the price longer,” he added.
The price of 100 kg of latex was up marginally at $219 in Kuala Lumpur thursday, according to the Indian Commerce Ministry. The commodity’s price in March hit an all-time high of $3.52 per kg, The Financial Times reported, citing the Rubber Research Institute of Thailand.
Cambodian Agriculture Ministry’s report didn’t mention plans by Vietnam Rubber Group to cultivate 100,000 hectares of rubber in Cambodia by 2012.
Fish caught in the 2009-2010 season stood at 515,000 tons, 390,000 tons of fresh water fish and 75,000 tons of sea fish, the report said.
Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok said the catch was up from 2008-2009, when fishermen netted a total of 490,000 tons.
Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said agricultural production had increased because of a rise in productivity among the nation’s small farmers who dominate the rice sector.
However, small farmers need more government support to improve production, while agriculture also needs to grow more diverse.
“So far as we know, only rice production has been improving, but other [agricultural] sectors such as vegetables, fruit and animal production have not,” he said, “We would like to see diversification because it improves farmers’ income and improves the local and national economy,” he added.