This page features a compilation and selection of Cambodian seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
Rice farmers urged to hurry up and plant as heavy rains loom: May 27: The Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has urged farmers to expedite field plowing and rice planting in anticipation of increased rain this year. Farmers were told to be prepared to pump water from their fields in order to meet sowing targets, and to consider transplanting techniques over broadcasting in order to cultivate ‘deeper’ fields and reduce the seed and fertilizer requirement. According to a report by the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture, rainfall has so far reached 425 mm, compared to 122 mm last year, almost four times. Source In related news, in response to reports of sowing delays and difficulties in areas in Banteay Meanchey and Tbong Khmum provinces due to heavy rains and floods, the Ministry of Agriculture has issued guidelines for rice farmers to mitigate flood risk and thus achieve the rice production targets. As of May 25, 2022, farmers had planted 502,799 hectares of land, or less than 20% of the national sowing target of 2,619,500 hectares. Source.
Aus ag support project to end, as new one to commence: May 25: The Australian Government's Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) program which has provided about $ 92 million in assistance to Cambodia over the past 10 years, will conclude in June 2022. The program has focused on the improvement of quality of seeds, agricultural diversification, improving the value chain, providing agricultural inputs and markets, and improving irrigation. After CAVAC concludes, the Australian Government will continue to work with the Royal Government of Cambodia on another new project through the Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development (CAP-RED), which will "Focus on key sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy and education." Source here and here.
Tbong Khmum rice sowing update: May 9: Commencing the rainy season, farmers in Tbong Khmum province have plowed their fields to grow three types of rice: light rice, medium rice and heavy rice, with more than 12% of their sowing target met as of a report on May 9. The weather this year has reportedly not been very favorable, with insufficient rain. According to an official from the Tbong Khmum Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, farmers in Tbong Khmum province have plowed 8,800 hectares for sowing of various varietes of rain-fed rice varieties. Source.
Seeds distributed in Prasat Bakong: From March 1 to 3, 2022, Mr. So Platon, Governor of Prasat Bakong District in Siem Reap Province, joined Dr. Vong Sandab, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Food Reserve System Commission of Cambodia to distribute a large quantity of packages of mixed vegetable seeds as part of the government’s food reserve project and pandemic-economic response objectives. Seeds were distributed to farmers' families in eight communes of Prasat Bakong district. A total of 2,616 families received mixed vegetable seeds: each family received a large package of vegetable seeds, including a variety of pumpkin, tomatoes, kale, long and short eggplant seeds. See original story here.
Tissue culture for tree conservation: March 1: A technical team specialized in tree breeding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is experimenting with the production of seedlings using tissue culture, especially rosewood. See original story in Khmer here.
Agricultural fair aims to spur innovation for sustainable growth: February 18: Jointly organized by the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), Department of Extension of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF), and the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), under the auspices of the FAO, an agricultural market and innovation fair was held on February 15 under the theme of “Innovation for Sustainable Agrifood Systems and Climate-resilient Agriculture”. The fair aimed to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration to drive innovation to improve the quality and efficiency of the agricultural sector to ensure the nation's food security to support its growing population. Read original story here
RCEP Rules of Origin discussed by trade officials: February 10: Dozens of Cambodian trade and regulatory officials joined an online meeting to discuss Rules of Origin stipulations underthe Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The meeting, which was headlined "Unpacking the RCEP Agreement" was broadcast from Phnom Phenh and hosted by the Jakarta-based Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) was attended by Ministry of Commerce officials, economists, and representatives of the Asian Trade Centre and other private sector stakeholders. “Rules of origin” refers to criteria required to ascertain the national source of a product, and how to determine if specific goods or commodities – including agricultural products such as seeds – originate from RCEP member countries and thus benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the agreement. Signed on Nov. 15, 2020 and entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, RCEP is a mega trade agreement between 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The meeting was presided over by Sim Sokheng, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, and also heard from Jeremy Gross, director of capacity building at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA); Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Center in Singapore and Un Chantha, director of Export-Import Department of the Ministry of Commerce. See full summary by Phnom Penh Post here, as well as Xin Hua here.
Japanese firm to invest in Cambodian cashews: January 26: Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon recently met with Japanese investors to discuss plans to invest in Cambodia’s cashew crops, and the prospect of setting up a processing plant that would supply exports to Japan and other international markets. The Japanese delegation included the CEO of YEBISS-HOLDINGS, Akira Taniguchi, who said that his company is planning to invest in a 1,000-hectare cashew field in Oddar Meanchey. More details here.
Cambodian Rice Exports Recovering: December 21: The Cambodia Rice Federation expects milled rice exports will rise to 700,000 metric tonnes in 2022 after dropping 8.7 percent in 2021 to 630,000 tonnes from 690,000 in 2020. Key markets for Cambodia are in the European Union and China. Rising shipping costs and a shortage of suitably sized containers, however, continue to handicap exports, as they have during the past two years -- a circumstance that probably will not ease for at least six months. Covid-19 precautions make return of empty containers problematic. Shipping cost increases reflect shipping line profits: these, in 2021, are almost five times those of 2020, but may come down in tandem with quarantine restrictions. City Rice Import Export Company Ltd is Cambodia’s biggest milled rice exporter and expects to export 100,000 metric tonnes in 2022, or about 20 percent more than last year. To meet demand, City Rice may invest more in wet paddy drying facilities, increasing capacity from 1,500 metric tonnes a day to 2,000 in 2022. See full story here.
USDA, APSA and ASTA enhance Cambodian capacity in Seed Quality Management Workshops
The United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA-FAS) on October 28 joined efforts with Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA) and American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) to co-organize the first of two online Seed Quality Management System workshops for more than 60 Cambodian officials and academicians.
The workshops are the latest component of the Seed Trade Capacity Building Project in the Lower Mekong Region funded under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership (MUSP), and build on the organizations’ previous collaboration facilitated through what was formerly known as the Lower Mekong Initiative. More details about MUSP Seed program here.
Organized at the request of the Cambodian delegation, this latest workshop was attended by officers from Cambodia’s Department of Crop Seed (DCS) and National Laboratory of Agriculture (NAL) – under the General Directorate of Agriculture – the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) in Phnom Penh and observers from the Department of Agriculture, Thailand, in addition to staff from APSA and the USDA.
Inaugurated and moderated by Mr Khalil Hamid (Program Manager, Office of Global Programs, USDA-FAS), the first day’s opening presentation was delivered by Todd Erickson (Laboratory Supervisor, Seed Regulatory and Testing Division of USDA), who gave an overview on Seed Quality Management Systems in the scope of developing, reviewing and maintaining Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and other best practices related to record keeping, and organizing documents related to seed quality.
This was followed by a Q&A session with participants , Mr. Erickson and Dr Stephen R. Malone (U.S. OECD Seed Schemes Program Manager), before closing remarks were delivered by APSA Executive Director Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey.
The follow-up workshop will be held on November 2 and cover ISTA (International Seed Testing Association) Accreditation Standard for Seed Testing and Sampling and a component on staff training. Stand by for updates.
USDA opens Cambodian office: September 28: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened its first office in Cambodia. The new office, which is located at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, will facilitate work to support bilateral agricultural trade and collaboration benefitting both countries. According to USDA figures cited, U.S. agricultural exports to Cambodia have increased by nearly five-fold in the past decade.
Greenhouse vegetable cultivation success: September 16: Vegetable farmers in Tboung Khmum Province have successfully cultivated and harvested leafy green vegetables in greenhouses, avoiding the fate of open field farms that have suffered from heavy rain elsewhere in the country. Their efforts have been supported with investment from the the Ministry of Agricultureto increase productivity and encourage sustainable farming. Source here.
Mondulkiri project to bolster vegetable seed production: September 9: The government of the Republic of Korea has pledged a $3.3 million grant to Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for a project to boost production of high-value vegetable crops in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri. The project, titled “Demonstration and Value Chain Linkage of High Value Vegetables Production in Mountainous Areas of Cambodia” would focus on the development of a white-potato seed production system, as well as the production of four high-value vegetable seeds: white cabbage, napa cabbage, broccoli, and white potatoes. The project was initially scheduled to be implemented over four year period of 2021-2024 and following a postponement is scheduled to commence soon. According to figures cited in an article, a total of 30,000 hectares of land in Mondulkiri is devoted to vegetable crop cultivation. Another figure revealed that last year, vegetable production in the Kingdom reached 716,113 tonnes, which was enough to supply 68% of domestic demand, requiring the kingdom to import another 329,612 tonnes.
Rainy season rice cultivation exceeds target: August 20: Rainy season rice has been cultivated on more than 2.6 million hectares, which represents 101.90 of of the annual target. The news was announced by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon through Facebook. Last year, Cambodia was only able to achieve 94.74 percent of its annual rainy season paddy planting target, said the Minister, who attributed the success to increased planting of ‘light rice’ with an average yield of 4.2 tonnes per hectare. He also noted that heat and drought conditions caused damage to about 67,942 hectares in Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Kandal, and Siem Reap, which represents about 2.56 percent of the national total. The Minister went on to note planting success for other crops such as white corn, sweet potatoes, vegetables, chili, and watermelon, which were cultivated on 95.66 % of the national target. Cash crops, including red corn, cassava, beans, peanuts, soybeans, sesame and sugarcane have reached 93.46 percent of the national cultivation target. See original news here.
Rice trials to select ‘non seasonal’ aromatic hybrid rice lines: Aug 9: The Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is promoting the cultivation of "non-seasonal fragrant rice" hybrids. Quoted in a local news article, Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon, revealed details about research carried out from 2017 to 2020 by the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute to develop new non-seasonal aromatic hybrid rice varieties. With financial support from the Australian Government through the CAVAC project (CAVAC) research and trials via farmers and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) has involved the planting and selection of about 100 sixth generation (F6) lines in the dry and wet seasons. Trials carried out in in Prey Veng, Siem Reap and Battambang have so far have yielded several promising lines. Data analytics and trials are ongoing.
Quarter Four reopening mulled as restrictions persist: July 27: Though government sources have hinted that the country could be read to open up to travel as soon as November, other insiders predict that it might not be until early 2022. Various restrictions are in place throughout the country (see lockdown and case map). With new surges in cases inflicting the country in June and July, the Phnom Penh Capital Administration suspended "high risk" businesses and activities in the capital, inccluding clubs, karaoke, bars, discos, beer gardens and casinos, resorts, museums, amusement parks, massage parlors, cinemas, art theaters, fitness clubs and sports centers, while private large gatherings of 15 people and over were also barred, with some exceptions. In related news, Reuters on July 23 reported on Cambodian cyclo taxi drivers flocking to the streets of Phnom Penh with mobile food banks to distribute free food and essentials to those hit hard by coronavirus movement restrictions.
Cassava, corn crops lost in drought: July 20: Some 1,300 hectares of cassava crops have been reported destroyed in Pailin province, following nearly three months of severe drought conditions. The province’s department of agriculture said that both cassava and corn crops have been destroyed, despite interventions to save some crops. These include the spraying of pesticides to counter opportunist pests praying on the weakened, thirsty crops. According to a figure citing the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia more than 660,000 hectares have been allocated for cassava, which yields more than 12 million tonnes a year. See original story here.
Farmers, produce-markets hit hard by pandemic: May 27: Radio Free Asia has published a video report that highlights pandemic-induced concerns of chilli pepper, cucumber and pineapple farmers in the northwest of the country. According to a farmer interviewed, lockdowns have caused restaurants to close and a reduction in produce demand linked to plummeting prices and rising production costs. See video here.
Lockdowns after Battambang maize seed supplier tests positive: May 20: Kampucheathmey reports that the Battambang Provincial Administration had issued a decision on the temporary closure of three locations in the district as part of Covid-19 containment efforts following reports that a 36-year-old employee of a maize seed and fertilizer distribution company who had been deemed infected had recently visited said locations. News here.
Demand, price for high-yielding hybrid paddy cultivar rises: May 13: The price for OM 5451 rice continues to rise driven in part by strong demand from Vietnam. The hybrid rice cultivar was developed to produce a high yield and is resistant to pests and disease. As a result, farmers growing OM 5451 rice in the Kingdom are achieving much higher yields than average with a cooperative in Kampong Chhnang Province averaging 6.5 tonnes per hectare, compared to 4.5 tonnes per hectare averaged across the country in the dry-season harvest as reported by the General Directorate of Agriculture chief Ngin Chhay. Cambodia has two rice crops per year, with the monsoon-season crop planed from May to July and harvested in December, while the dry-season crop is sown in November and harvested in the first two months of the year. In 2020, Cambodia exported 2,893,951 tonnes of rice worth more than USD 723 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Original story here
‘Build Back Better’ through seed conservation: April 23: Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr. Veng Sakhon, vocalized his government’s prioritization of the conservation of seeds and protection of crops through the strengthening of sanitation and phytosanitary measures. His remarks were made during an online roundtable discussion on food systems transformation in the Asia-Pacific region. Organized by the World Bank as part of theme and agenda to ‘Build Back Better’ ahead of 2030, the meeting was attended by the Ministers of Agriculture from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Vietnam and East Timor, as well as representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other organizations. See Khmer news here.
Encouraging farmers to grow Cocoa for export: April 11: Cambodian farmers are being encouraged to grow 1 million cocoa trees and collect cocoa beans for export to international markets. A company will reportedly supply 300,000 cocoa seedlings of a Thai weather-resilient variety. In the past in Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri there were many farmers growing this crop, which requires between 18 and 24 months to cultivate from seedling to harvest. News here.
Improving cassava yields with the right variety: April 9: For the last five years, cassava yields in Tbong Khmum province have been on decline due to “improper selection of cultivars”. In order to empower farmers to achieve maximum yields the Tbong Khmum Department of Agriculture has advised farmers to select Malay cassava cultivars, which are weather resilient and disease resistant, especially to the endemic Mosaic Virus. In 2020, farmers in the province planted cassava across 55,475 hectares, 55,360 of which were cultivated in the rainy season and 115 hectares in the dry season, yielding a total of 1,003,855 tonnes. See original news here.
Eggplant farmers enjoy high yields amid declining prices: March 28: In Battambang Province the ‘Hawaiian eggplant’ is a popular cultivar cultivated for use in many kinds of foods widely consumed. Though cultivation and yields have grown, prices have dropped. One farmers who harvest between 300 to 500 kilograms per day this year is only able to get 400 riel (US$0.24) per kg, compared to last year when he got 1,000 riel (10 cents) per kg. Original news here.
Encouraging veg, garlic growing in Mondulkiri: March 27: The Mondulkiri Provincial Department of Agriculture is pushing to increase cultivation of garlic following promising planting trials as part of efforts to reduce the need to import the tuber crop. Aside from this, other crops being encouraged include cabbage and carrots, which can fetch between 4,000 to 4,500 riel ($0.98 to 1.10) per kilogram. Original news here.
Dry season crop production higher than previous year: Mar 26: Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr. Veng Sakhon, reveiled that as of March 25, 2021, rice had been sown or transplanted on 649,539 ha, up 52,031 ha over planting this time last year. This crop is tipped to yield 2,175,197 tonnes, which would be an average yield of 4.47 tons / ha. Dry season rice was harvested this year across 486,646 hectares. As for other horticultural crops, white corn, sweet potato, and various kinds of vegetables, peppers and watermelon was sown on 38,170 hectares, up by 544 hectares over last year. Moreover, cassava, soybeans, peanuts, soybeans, sesame, sugar cane, sorghum, tobacco and lotus had been cultivated on 89,864 ha. See original news here.
Tomato breeding efforts and seed distribution: 2 March: The Department of Agriculture has been developing high yielding and weather resistant varieties of vegetable crops, such as 13 varieties of tomatoes, to be used by farmers. Yields of the tomato varieties average from 40-50 tons per hectare up to 50-60 tons per hectare. In 2020, the Department of Agriculture distributed 31.88 tons of vegetable seeds, equivalent to 524,838 packages to 104,478 families affected by floods in 17 target provinces, including Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kratie, Pursat, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kandal, Stung Treng, Pailin, Kampot, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Svay Rieng and Kampong Speu provinces. Read original story in Khmer here
Officials praise ‘safe vegetable’ production in Senmonorom: February 2021: Having completed inspections of agriculture production sites in Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Mondulkiri provinces, central and local government officials were impressed after inspecting vegetable cultivation site on an area of 6 hectares in Sen Monorom city of Mondulkiri province. The site included mostly cabbage and potato, and was appreciated as a model site for the cultivation of ‘safe vegetables’ with high market potential. According to the MAFF reports, “growing and providing good crops can return a high source of income, ranging from US$5,000-8,000 per year”. Read original reports here and here.
Chum Kiri farmers complain about low price of vegetables: 28 January, 2021: Vegetable growers in the Sre Cheng commune, Chum Kiri district, Kampot Province are struggling to realize returns due to low prices of vegetables linked to an oversupply, and the high overheads for production. They have requested intervention by relevant officials to intervene. Read original report here.
Yellow watermelon variety in Mondulkiri sells well: 6 February: One farmer has reported success with a yellow watermelon variety he has cultivated in the Pu Chrey commune, Pichreada district of Mondulkiri province for four years. According to the 44-year-old farmer the yellow watermelon has a wide market and sells well. According to the farmer, there are no other serious growers of yellow watermelon in his area. The variety is reportedly a Japanese one that has a growth cycle of about 65 days, is sweet and can fetch a price locally, and in the Cambodian capital of about 4,000 to 5,000 riel ($1 - 1.23) per kilogram. Aside from the watermelon, he also grows vegetables on his 12 hectares plot of land, including cabbage, kale, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and potatoes. One hectare is exclusively for watermelon. See original report here.
Setting New Standards in Phkar Romduol rice seed production: A rice-growing community in Moung Ruessei District, Battambang Province, was acknowledged by Mr. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, for its quality of ‘Phkar Romduol’ rice seed production. The community of 121 families currently farms 800 hectares of rice fields, with 45 hectares for seed production with the support from the Climate Resilient Rice Commercialization Sector Development Program (Rice-SDP), that aims to promote high quality rice seed that produces export quality rice. See original story here.
Minister of Agriculture inspects Mega First plantation in Mondulkiri: A plantation in Mondulkiri Province owned by MegaFace Company was recently visited by Mr. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The plantation currently has over 6,419 hectares under production including 700 hectares of fragrant coconut, a variety imported from Malaysia with a large fruit, that is ideal for producing coconut water and coconut oil. Read original report here.
Seeking mosaic virus resistant cassava: January 2021: The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has instructed farmers to select cassava varieties that are healthy and of good quality, resistant to climate change, resistant to diseases and pests. For higher yields. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, KU50 and 81 varieties are good choices for farmers to grow high yields without disease and especially those resistant to mosaic virus disease According to a report by the General Department of Agriculture released on December 29, 2020 states that there are currently 656,868 cassava plantations nationwide. Hectares, which yield an average of more than 12 million tons per year. Read more here. As well in this article which mentions specific details of various cassava trials.