New Centre For Agricultural Research To Help Expand Markets

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China-based Digital Agriculture Exchange has revealed plans to build an agricultural research centre in the kingdom to improve production and packaging standards of local fruit and vegetables.

Fruit for sale in a local supermarket. KT/Chor sokunthea

Officially dubbed a “multifunctional centre”, its aim is to up quality standards to make Cambodian produce more desirable abroad, said Hean Vanhan, director-general of the general directorate of agriculture.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the project was signed earlier this week by Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, and a representative of the Chinese company.

According to the agreement, the company’s work will largely centered on boosting the quality of local fruit and vegetables to increase demand for them both locally and internationally, with China as the main target abroad.

“The company will conduct research on vegetables and fruit that are popular in the local market and outside Cambodia. An area of focus will be cleaning the produce and packaging it to ready it for export,” Mr Vanhan said.

“Tests to determine whether or not the products meet sanitary and phytosanitary requirements will also be done on site.

“This is great for Cambodia because we don’t have a centre like this yet.”

Ministry officials will work hand in hand with the centre once it is up and running, Mr Vanhan said, adding that the company also plans to partner with local companies for the project.

“By strengthening the quality of production and packaging, the centre will increase demand for our products abroad.

“The new facility will help us export mango to South Korea and China, countries that have stringent sanitary and phytosanitary demands.”

The Cambodia Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi) is the only centre in the kingdom that currently conducts agricultural research, according to Mr Vanhan.

The government is prioritising the establishments of such facilities to control the quality of its agricultural products before sending them abroad, he said.

A new centre in Kandal province, expected to come online in the next few months, will be used for cleaning and labeling produce before exporting it. Quality tests will also be conducted at the new facilities, according to Kandal’s agricultural director Bun Tounsimona.

“It will improve the quality of agricultural products, especially vegetables, in Kandal province. Eventually, products from other provinces will also be sent here for quality tests,” he said.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.