Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, announcing the 5th and 6th programs of the 6 priority policy programs organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

CMF:

[1]

Priority policy programs 5 and 6 to be implemented before end of 2023

[…] It is a pleasure to preside over the launching ceremony of the 5th and 6th priority policy programs of the Royal Government, which are the two last programs in the new government’s six priority programs to be implemented before the end of 2023 […] the Royal Government will be 90 days old in two more days. That we have set the deadline for putting these programs into actions before the end of 2023, in fact we have been thinking and working on them for a long time (and finally it has) come to fruition in less than 90 days. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, former Prime Minister, for initiating a number of concepts, including works related to the agricultural sector, which (helps) us to prepare and as a foundation […] to reform and further strengthening for the seventh legislative term […]

[2]

Concerns about El Nino impact on global food production

It goes without saying that the food crisis is not imaginary. In recent years, we have seen that the Ukraine-Russia war, which Ukraine is the largest exporter of wheat in the world, has led to a crisis in food prices, especially in developed countries that depend on those raw materials. As I attended the ASEAN Summit, there was a lot of talk at the meeting about concerns that the effects of El Nino are affecting global food production, the consequence of which could lead to food shortages and high prices […]

While some countries lack food, Cambodia has a food surplus and can export

A few years ago, some ASEAN countries even had to exercise ration/quota for people to purchase goods because they were scarce and thus expensive. Many countries therefore have launched a campaign to buy in (and store food). I have met with some ASEAN leaders who buy food to stockpile in case of need, according to the forecast. While many countries are facing this crisis, on the contrary, Cambodia has ensured food security, and according to the report of the Minister (of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) it ensures not only food security in the country, but also have a surplus of agricultural products up to 6.2 million tons in the past 10 months that we can exports […]

Leadership, proper management and good policies make the natural resources potential beneficial

This is a proof that our country not only has the potential of natural resources – fertile soil, but also has the leadership, management and set the right policy. The end of the war, the liberation of agricultural land from landmines, the introduction of various incentive policies, non-taxation of (household agricultural) land, agricultural equipment and many other incentives have paid off. If there is no stability, no peace, no land that can grow all kinds of crops, no access to market, and making no effort to find a market outside the country, we can not guarantee that (these resources have turned beneficial) […]

As long as people still eat food, agriculture remains a top priority

Although we aim to promote the diversification and promotion of the digital and services industry, we cannot abandon agriculture. In short, as long as people continue to eat, agriculture remains a top priority. (It is good that) Cambodia has got these favorable conditions. Some countries are not that lucky. While in some, their lands have had gravel or rock, others have to strive to survive hard to strengthen themselves for survival. Food security is very important. As you all have seen, especially in the crisis of Covid-19, people can stop traveling, stop buying new cars, stop buying new phones, but people cannot stop eating […]

Promote production, find markets, deploy agricultural workers and develop modern agricultural communities (MAC)

The fifth and sixth priority policy programs aim to strengthen and further enhance our agricultural potential. Not only do we not give up agriculture, but we put in place policies to strengthen and leverage more potential to make it more productive for our farmers. (The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) His Excellency Minister Dith Tina mentioned three important issues listed in the policy programs – (1) promote agricultural products, find a market to maintain the price of agricultural products through the financing program; (2) deployment of agricultural workers throughout commune and district […]; and (3) development of modern agricultural communities (MAC) […] these three policy programs aim to create efficiency and ensure the competitiveness of our agricultural sector […]

Strive to negotiate external markets, guarantee policies, communication, quality and price

Of course, we have favorable natural resources, human resources and fertile soil. We strive to negotiate external markets through various free trade agreements. But do not forget that in this world many countries are competing to do the same. So, success is not automatic and it is not a coincidence that we can secure a surplus of and export more than 6 million tons of agricultural products in 10 months (to date). It is not because of we did nothing and those countries buy products from Cambodia. Thus, those agreements guarantee policies, communication, quality and value in competition […]

[3]

Sell at high price, low production costs and ensure advantageous competition provide more benefits to farmers

This year, I am happy that the price of rice is good for our farmers […] according to the report, our farmers sell a kilogram of rice for Riel 1,000 or 1,300. If we compare (the price to the year) before, it was between Riel 800 and 1000. Combined with the fall in prices of raw materials such as fertilizers and pesticides, the good price (this year) enables farmers to earn some good income. It is not the selling price alone that makes it different, the production cost does too. That means how much money the farmers have left. If the production cost is too high, the selling price is low, the remaining part is small […] if the selling price is higher, the revenue is higher, and the production cost is lower, along with efforts to reduce shipping costs, I think it makes our agricultural products more competitive giving more benefits to farmers […]

The development goal is to distribute benefits to people, or farmers in agricultural sector

It is said that the main result is not the concentrated benefit in the Royal Government. The priority goal of our development is to distribute this benefit to the people, especially in the agricultural sector, to the farmers. We need to do this with stakeholders, and the private sector is also involved in the process. Ask if all this is enough? What else should we do to ensure (this goal)? […] we must constantly modernize agricultural techniques to increase productivity, reduce costs and guarantee (competitiveness). When it comes to agriculture, we always think about the balance between consumers and producers. If the producers offer a good price, but the traders who sell at a high price to consumers, it is still unbeneficial. It will create inflation […]

To protect agricultural products, local producers must ensure products quality and value for consumers

We need to reduce the gaps so that we can ensure that (firstly) farmers benefit more, and secondly, keep the market price balanced for the products. Farmers want high rice yields (and good price) but consumers want low price. In this regard, what would be the formula that the Royal Government must consider in order to balance (between the two demands) […] there is a suggestion for the Royal Government to protect the local (agricultural products). We want (to do that), but the local products need to be competitive to guarantee to the consumers both quality and price. Otherwise, it will not work […]

Changes in the price of consumer food/goods related to people’s livelihood

We all see that in this year, despite the crisis in foreign energy sector (which causes) rising (general) commodity prices, (the domestic commodity price index in) our country are not yet at risk. I urge (the Ministry of Commerce to) continue monitoring (further fluctuations in commodity prices) because it is related to people’s lives. Wages go up, but inflation is high, (it doesn’t help livelihoods). Salary does not have to go up if goods stay their prices. It is better than when the price of goods goes up too fast. When we talk about agricultural products, domestic products must ensure a balance of both producers and consumers […]

[4]

Cambodian agriculture is competing with neighboring large agricultural products

Our country is small and with this size we try to compete, we will not win. I would like us to think of this sector as the whole forest, not a single tree. Given that our country is an agricultural exporter as mentioned by HE Dith Tina, do not forget that among the 10 ASEAN nations, not to mention Africa, Latin America, we are already competing, especially with our neighbors right next to us […] private, state and farmers should think and work altogether […] maybe a mindset like a football team. Take the 1st place in the 10th place team or take 10th place in the 1st place team? We ask ourselves this questions […] what does that mean? Let us think about the common interests of the entire Cambodian sector rather than the interests of any one company. In the field of rice, we have to compete internal internally but not to to the extent that we lose the competition with neighboring countries […]

Small-scale economy, inability to compete and/or lack of access to technological intervention

Being a modern agricultural community does not mean that we refer to only resources, to modern technology, but to modern thinking, working methods and cooperation […] I said it since before the formation of the new government, through various forums that should the size of the scale economy is not that large, we cannot compete with other exporters. Most often, we compete to export to similar markets. More so, without scale, there is no possibility of adopting technology to receive detailed interventions. Even the state wants to help but cannot do help enough […] scale economy is very important in the competition, especially we aim to turn and walk from household farming to modern agriculture and large-scale agro-industry […]

Consider the type of intervention – both reactive and proactive

I gave the principle to HE Dith Tina on the intervention and selection of categories (of interventions). One is be reactive which means that if the people continue to do thing left from their ancestors, we will keep helping them as we have been doing. If there are 100 products per thousand families, we will help them to produce the same 100 items. But by being proactive, we must consider whether to (work) the scale by figuring out whether to help divert (their production) […]

[5]

Use G2G and B2B methods to capture new markets between sellers and buyers without brokers

The Ministry of Commerce has played an active role in exporting these products. I commend the Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture for its active efforts to capture new markets and not only find new markets, but also find new approaches. New methods for what? Most of the new markets are being carried out using government to government and business to business methods. Our company invests locally with foreign companies for export. In both domestic and foreign markets, we are figuring out a formula to enable (goods going from) sellers to buyers without going through (brokers) […]

[6]

Price intervention only on some strategic products and when most needed

As long as there is competition, we are strong. The government cannot always help. We must work hard in agricultures. In particular, we are members of many free trade organizations. Some interventions affect the rules of competition […] price intervention (is possible) only on certain strategic products, when most needed and at the highest level. We can not say that when selling well, we still intervene. How much do we need to help make the market competitive […] (because) firstly, the Constitution guarantees a market economy which reduces state interference, and secondly, intervene only in the state program […] especially tasks, such as technical and infrastructural that we can do in the long run […]

[7]

Linking agriculture and handicrafts; services and tourism and industry…

We can not force the private sector or the people to buy products that are expensive or of poor quality […] this supply chain is very important for consumers. We may think of connection between agriculture, services sector, namely tourism. That day in the meeting between the government and the private sector, there was also a mention of the green belt (to respond to) the needs in the tourism […] in general, we have to organize to poles. What pole is the principle one. For example, Siem Reap takes tourism pole as its base and various other sectors as supporter. (Firstly,) griculture supports tourism and services. For instance, people who sell handicraft products to serve the tourism sector […] and secondly to connect agriculture with manufacturing. We are talking about the export of raw materials. In order to maximize the value added in our country, however, the Royal Government aims to establish a modern agricultural community (MAC), ensure technical support for local production, do not export raw materials outside the country […] the country has got huge potential, […] if possible, we can reach to managing the marketing system to replace imported products with local products […]

Consider incorporating technology to export more value-added products

We can think about pulling in various technologies, and importantly focussing on agricultural transformation, exporting more finished products to ensure more value-added in our country […] bananas price went down, but canned bananas are not easily losing price […] (it is what we call) diversification in agriculture […] and thirdly, customer is the key factor […] if there is a product and there is no market, it is difficult for us […] once the demand increases, people also think about health, quality and price […] moreover, quality assurance, especially when we deploy agricultural workers/officials to the grassroots. Please create and disseminate culture, quality, quantity and honesty to farmers to ensure that Cambodian products have quality, not harmful to health and also affordable and do not cheat customers […]

[8]

Pass the exam, must go to work, must not let the skills stay in Phnom Penh…

So far, we plan to recruit 1,600 people. As far as I know, there have been as close as 10,000 applicants […] we need to open up (possibilities) for experienced people, especially those who have worked in the fields for a long time, such as workers working for NGOs, who volunteer to go to the farm with their skills […] after selections, we train them and send them to the target areas […] we must make sure that once “s/he passed the exam, s/he must go to work with the farmers.” Otherwise, the position we long for is empty […] they must be managed consistently. They may have the kills, but if they do not go to work in the field, for instance stuck in Phnom Penh, […] nothing good could be distributed to farmers in need […] I am calling on those who apply – when they pass the exam, please do your best to help farmers. You are given the government payroll not only to get a salary, but to help the people and the nation through delivering skills to farmers and agriculture […]

[9]

Strengthen inter-ministerial mechanisms, where agriculture is a priority, the Ministry of Agriculture must take the lead

We must work on (firstly) strengthening inter-ministerial mechanism. Where planning involves agriculture as a priority, the Ministry of Agriculture (Forestry and Fisheries must) take the lead and other ministries serve as supporters. There must be only one commander. Too many commanders would not work […] and secondly, working with development partners […] by strengthening the efficiency of the mechanism of the national and sub-national institutions […] (let us have the one window service) where the private sector has a single representative, the farmers have MAC (as representative) and the government also has a single representative, to work together, coordinate and set a common goal […]

In 2024, all ministries must review internal structure, roles and responsibilities

Failure or not depends on effective or ineffective implementation. If the implementation mechanism is not unanimous, what is on the paper is not applicable and uncomfortable, creating confusion and institutional overlap. In 2024, I set a goal to conduct public administration reform, whereby all ministries review their internal structures, roles and responsibilities, because some places may overlap. In agriculture, for example, between the Department of Research and CARDI, they have overlapped roles and responsibilities or not? Which one do we strengthen, which one do we keep […] we will discuss the policy framework and review – first, the existing mechanisms, if all the angles are there, and how do we strengthen it, and second, what is and where is the gap? […] monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are very important. The Ministry needs to have all the stages, both the selection and the deployment of officials and the intervention. There must be a mechanism to monitor regularly as a general staff for the Ministry or the national mechanism in a timely manner […]

[10]

Pay attention to specialty officials, give priority to officials in the policy research

Let me also talk a little bit about CARDI. Please pay attention to promote the work related to our research and development or R&D […] in the past, Samdech Techo laid out since 2020 a vision to strengthen the (CARDI/research and development) as the general staff […] now what are we to do with it? […] we need to look at and strengthen the role and duties, especially the relevant institutions such as CARDI. Look at the government’s policy framework and figure out way to  strengthen these officials. Firstly, about the recruitment of officials, secondly, to strengthen institutions, and thirdly, to strengthen the incentive system. This arrangement must pay attention to professional officials, especially to give priority to officials in the field of policy research […] and reading the elevation (of CARDI) to be the Royal Academy (of Agriculture), I suggest we do it in a way that its duties will not be overlapping or overlapped with those of the schools of agriculture that we already have […] instead, they should be complementing each other […]./.

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