Cambodia works on boosting local meat production

Every year Cambodia spends about USD 1 billion on importing pork, poultry and other agricultural products from neighboring countries, writes HA THU. Yet the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association (CLRA) believe that amount should rather be used to support local agriculture producers.

According to the latest survey by the CLRA, Cambodia spends more than USD 400 million each year on importing live pigs and USD 600 million on poultry. This figure is expected to increase with pork production in decline due to ASF, while consumer demand for meat is expected to increase after the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the ministry, Cambodia used to import 44,000 chickens daily through 13 importers. Data from the General Directorate of Agriculture show that the country went through 290,000 tons of meat last year, 58,000 tons of which was poultry. Domestic production can provide 240,000 tons, with the rest imported from neighboring countries.

Import cut

On February 18, Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to farmers to boost livestock production, to reduce the burden of imports and to ensure food security.

“We have to strengthen the ability of farmers to plant food and feed livestock to supply the local market,” he said.

The Prime Minister also called for careful checks on local production capacity and demand to calculate the reduction in imports.

Local farms can produce 240,000 tons of meat per day, though this is not enough to meet demand.

To reduce imports, MAFF has drawn up a roadmap leading up to 2030 with a projected production growth of 3%, to deliver a capacity of 335,000 tons of meat in a decade.

MAFF’s spokesman Srey Vuthy said the ministry also intends to boost the proportion of commercial farms from the current 15% to 30% by 2023.

“We encourage the private sector to invest in commercial animal farms as it will help grow the industry,” said Mr Vuthy.

In January, MAFF reduced the number of chicken importers to seven companies, and brought in a limit of 17,000 chickens per day.

MAFF said this restriction has helped balance the price of chicken in the domestic market, and supported local farmers in increasing their production.

“The government is doing the right thing with these restriction because they are protecting our farmers’ interests,” said Srun Pov, CLRA’s President.

He pointed out that local chicken prices increased after the import cuts, and local supplies remain stable, at 130,000 chickens per day.