78 percent of Cambodia’s population resides in the rural areas, and around 45 percent of the total labor force was directly engaged in the agriculture sector in 2014.. The primary agricultural commodity is rice. Other major crops include cassava, maize, mung bean, and soy bean. As a matter of policy, the Cambodian government encourages investment in agriculture, diversification of agricultural products, and investment in improved irrigation and water control. The sector accounted for approximately 26.7 percent of GDP in 2016. The Cambodian government set a goal of exporting one million tons of milled rice by 2015, but actual exports totaled only at 538,396 tons. In 2016, 542,144 tons of milled rice was exported. Most of the current demand for water pumps, well-drilling machines, tractors, tilling equipment, rice milling, drying, and packaging equipment, fertilizers, insecticides, and seed comes from private agribusiness investors and NGOs.
The government of Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy, launched in 2015, included the goals of reducing logistic and electricity costs in food processing. In May 2016, fees for loading and unloading cargo were reduced by 10% and 5% in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh ports, respectively, according to government sources.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
There is significant potential to expand the production and processing of high yield varieties of rice, cassava, corn, and other crops. Several investment projects in cassava and sugarcane are underway.
Higher quality seeds, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs and new technology such as spraying machines, pest identification drones and other equipment and training would greatly benefit the agriculture sector, which is only slowly transitioning from outdated and less productive. The presence of an increasing number of plantations also creates opportunities for the establishment of processing plants to add value to basic products for export and domestic consumption. As part of the government’s policy to support the agriculture industry, materials and equipment used in agricultural production are exempt from import duties. Relatively high operating costs, including electricity, limit opportunities to establish processing plants.