Sok Solida’s stall in Phnom Penh’s Daeum Kor wholesale market overflows with fruits and vegetables, but almost none come from Cambodia.
“You can hardly find anything locally produced in this market,” Solida said.
Solida sells longan from Thailand, Chilean red grapes, Chinese pears, Vietnamese oranges and dragon fruit. Only her green bananas are Cambodian products.
The stall’s composition reflects the major challenges for Cambodia’s agriculture sector, where markets are dominated by imported fruits and vegetables and the Kingdom’s farmers struggle to connect with global markets. Between 2014 and 2018, 84% of processed agricultural products and food sold in Cambodia was imported.
Industry analysts, entrepreneurs and government officials argue Cambodia has plenty of potential to take back ownership of its domestic agricultural markets and find international buyers. But this requires key structural changes including adding product value, aligning the needs of vendors and farmers, improving food processing within Cambodia and infrastructure investment to support emerging supply chains.