A joint initiative of ASEAN-German support and local cooperation in Cambodia sets a comprehensive business service to offer environmental friendly crop protection products to farms and bring safe vegetables from farms to consumers.
Eco-Agri Co. Ltd (EAC), cooperation between ASEAN-German Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) and the Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC), is geared to provide a healthy agriculture chain from farmers to customers where both obtain their maximum benefits. Through farmer contract, EAC supplies local produced biological products for crop protection to farmers and trains farmers with techniques on organic farming while ensuring stable and higher income and better health among the farmer. At the same time, consumers in Cambodia can enjoy more options and better varieties of organic products and can be ensured that the organic produces they purchase come from safe and trustable sources. Besides, EAC is preparing to import biological pest control solutions from ASEAN Member States to Cambodia in the future.
Agriculture in Cambodia
Almost one third of the land area in Cambodia is dedicated to agriculture. Slightly more than 50 per cent of the Cambodian population is employed in agricultural sector, which is generating 33.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. In the country the cost for chemical pesticide and fertiliser is increasing while the price of produce is still very low. Usage of inappropriate chemicals and fertilisers remain persistently high posing serious health hazards to both farmers and consumers. With an increasing awareness on health, consumers in Cambodia become to realize that conventional produces cause risk to their well-being. Therefore, the demand for organic produce is increasing double.
Organic supply chain and its challenges
Three levels of challenges along the organic supply chain in Cambodia consist of the key followings. The main challenges at the farm level are unavailability of bio inputs for organic production, inconsistent supply, high production cost and farmers’ capacity. The Challenges at the processing level include lack of technology for grading, packaging, storage, transportation and quality control. In the meantime, the challenge at the marketing level is limited market information including its demand, supply and prices.
Demand for overall vegetables and organic produces in Cambodia
Annual demand for vegetables in Cambodia is around 500,000 tons, of which at least 114,000 tons per year is imported from neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam, according the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). Although annual demand for vegetables has been steadily growing over the last years, increasing by around 15 per cent from 2009 to 2013, however per capita annual vegetable consumption is almost five times below the WHO recommendation at 146 kg per person. Market opportunities for fresh vegetable in Cambodia can be, hence, further explored.
Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC), a sister company of EAC, which is working on marketing channels of organic vegetables and fruits for EAC, estimates that market potential for organic produces is about 300 ton per month. Through the current engagement of EAC, KOC can bring about 10 per cent of the organic produces.