សារគន្លឹះ / KEY MESSAGES
- ក្រសួងកសិកម្ម រុក្ខាប្រមាញ់ និងនេសាទ (MAFF) គួរលើកកម្ពស់ និងគាំទ្រភាពជាដៃគូរវាងវិស័យឯកជន ម្ចាស់ជំនួយ និងកសិករខ្នាតតូច តាមរយៈការសម្រួលលំហូរការងារ ជាពិសេសការដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាទាក់ទងនឹងដំណើរការចុះបញ្ជី កង្វះកម្លាំងពលកម្ម និងជំនួយបច្ចេកទេស។
- ដើម្បីបង្កើនការចូលរួមរបស់កសិករខ្នាតតូចក្នុងភាពជាដៃគូរវាងផលិតកររដ្ឋនិងឯកជនក្នុងវិស័យកសិកម្ម (Agri-PPPPs) MAFF គួរតែពង្រឹងការអនុវត្តកសិកម្មតាមកិច្ចសន្យា សហករណ៍កសិកម្ម និងសេវាសិក្សាស្រាវជ្រាវកសិកម្ម។
- ដើម្បីសម្រេចបានចក្ខុវិស័យឆ្នាំ២០៣០ ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាត្រូវការវិស័យកសិកម្មប្រកបដោយភាពធន់ និងវិបុលភាព ដែលនេះតម្រូវឱ្យមានវិធីសាស្ត្រគ្រប់ជ្រុងជ្រោយ និងចម្រុះមួយ ដែលត្រូវមានការចូលរួមពី រដ្ឋាភិបាល វិស័យឯកជន កសិករ អង្គការកសិករ និងភាគីពាក់ព័ន្ធផ្សេងទៀត។
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) should promote and support partnerships between the private sector, donors and smallholders by streamlining workflow, especially resolving issues with registration processes, labour shortages and technical support.
- To increase the participation of smallholder farmers in agricultural public-private-producer (Agri-PPPPs), the MAFF should enhance the implementation of contract farming, agricultural cooperatives and agricultural extension services.
- To achieve our 2030 vision, Cambodia needs a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector. This requires a holistic and integrated approach that involves the government, the private sector, farmers, farmers’ organisations and other stakeholders.
Cambodia has set an ambitious goal of becoming a higher middle-income country by 2030. This requires Cambodia to diversify its economy, improve its competitiveness and strengthen its human capital. The agriculture sector, which provides employment for more than 50 percent of the population and contributes to about 20 percent of the GDP, is crucial for this endeavour. However, the agriculture sector is facing many difficulties that limit its ability to support Cambodia’s 2030 vision. Cambodia’s agricultural sector had a remarkable growth rate of 5.3 percent per year from 2004 to 2012, one of the most accelerated in the world. This growth helped reduce poverty, raise incomes and enhance food security for millions of Cambodians. However, the sector’s growth dropped to one to two percent per year over the last decade. The World Bank estimates that if the agricultural sector can sustain a five percent growth rate, farm wages will triple from US$ 1,200 in 2015 to US$ 3,760 in 2030. Conversely, if the sector grows at only three percent, farm incomes will increase to US$ 2,500 by 2030. To enhance the role of agriculture in the national economy, Cambodia needs to adopt new technologies and institutions that can overcome the challenges of small-scale and fragmented production.
One of the main challenges facing the agriculture sector is the predominance of smallholder farmers who lack access to markets, inputs, finance, technology, and extension services. According to the 2019 Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey, 82 percent of farmers are smallholder farmers who cultivate less than two hectares of land, and 61 percent are subsistence farmers who produce mainly for their own consumption (NIS 2020). One of the key challenges in this regard is the weak links between agricultural firms, smallholder farmers and agricultural cooperatives (ACs). According to a recent survey by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), only 10.78 percent of processing firms have connections with farmers and only 4.41 percent with ACs. This means that the inclusion of smallholder farmers in the agribusiness sector is very limited. The survey also reveals that firms rely mostly on their own plantations as the source of raw materials. Instead of sourcing from smallholder farmers, firms prefer to invest in their own production expansion to meet market demand. Furthermore, the support that firms provide to farmers is mainly technical, while loan and farm inputs are very scarce.
Encouraging the cooperation between small-scale farmers and large agribusiness (i.e., exporters or processors) could increase returns to small-scale farmers and income for rural farm households (Reardon et al. 2019). In other words, the government will have to adopt a coherent policy and interventions to integrate smallholders into value chains and maintain their competitiveness. This will minimise the urban-rural income gap, which is caused by inadequate agricultural systems (i.e., lack of technology, underdeveloped market infrastructure).
However, government commitment to addressing inclusive and sustainable agricultural development tends to be impeded by limited funding in the public sector in developing economies (FAO, 2016). For Cambodia, the share of government budget allocated to the MAFF is only 0.81 percent of the 2021 annual budget (Ministry of Economy and Finance [MEF], 2021). In this regard, the government also acknowledges important roles in promoting partnerships among key actors (i.e., public and private sectors and producers) who are potential contributors (RGC, 2021). A survey by CDRI found that more than 60 percent of firms collaborated with the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) and the MAFF in areas such as land provision or rental, extension services and connection with ACs, but not in investment.
One of the challenges that agricultural firms face in Cambodia is how to establish and maintain effective links with other actors in their value chain, such as input suppliers, smallholder farmers and public sector agencies. In a recent survey, some firms shared that their input suppliers could offer better services at a more reasonable price, and that the MAFF and the PDAFF would provide more extension services, better market access and a better workflow. These suggestions reflect the needs and expectations of agribusiness firms, as well as the gaps and opportunities for improvement in the value chain.
A practical approach to achieving sustainable agricultural development is through leverage financing, especially with the inclusion of smallholder farmers is Agri-PPPPs (FAO, 2016). Agri-PPPPs can also encourage private sector involvement in agricultural business activities that would be otherwise considered high risk. They are also expected to promote innovation, market access and inclusion of smallholder farmers in low and middle-income countries (Poulton and Macartney, 2012). A suitable Agri-PPPPs framework can enhance the inclusion of smallholders, but the Agri-PPPPs framework may not fit in our context, because it requires more active and long-term public sector engagement in the partnership, rather than a temporary or regulatory role. The main challenges of the relationship are the low quality of smallholder production, the scarcity and weakness of ACs and limited interaction between firms and ACs. These challenges affect the market access and competitiveness of smallholder farmers. ACs can play a key role in addressing these challenges by organising, training and supporting smallholder farmers, as well as reducing transaction costs and risks for both farmers and firms. ACs can also ensure that farmers comply with the quality standards demanded by the market. However, ACs need government support to establish, operate and grow. ACs have a comparative advantage over government institutions in providing these services, as they have more direct and frequent contact with farmers and can leverage social capital among them.
Furthermore, foster links between smallholder farmers and other actors in the value chain, such as processors, traders, wholesalers, retailers and consumers can create mutual benefits for both parties. These can include reducing transaction costs, improving quality and traceability, ensuring supply and demand and sharing risks and rewards. For example, contract farming arrangements can provide smallholder farmers with guaranteed markets and inputs, while processors can secure a stable supply of raw materials. Similarly, direct sales to consumers or retailers can increase the income of smallholder farmers and reduce intermediaries. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization shows that contract farming can improve the income of smallholder farmers by 50-100 percent. An example of contract farming in Thailand is the sugar cane production for Mitr Phol Sugar Corporation, which is one of the largest sugar producers in Asia. Mitr Phol provides inputs, technical assistance, harvesting services, transportation and guaranteed prices to more than 100,000 contracted farmers who supply about 70 percent of its raw material needs.
In conclusion, agriculture is a vital sector for Cambodia’s economic development and society. The sector has made significant progress in reducing poverty, improving food security and increasing exports. However, there are still many challenges to overcome in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. These challenges require a holistic and integrated approach that involves the government, private sector, farmers, farmers’ organisations and other stakeholders. By working together, we can create a more resilient and prosperous agricultural sector for Cambodia. By pursuing these strategic directions, Cambodia can harness the power of agriculture to achieve its vision of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.
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