With the start of the dry harvest season for cassava kicking off, farmers are calling for the government to support the struggling sector with initiatives to address recurring capital shortages and market volatility. Sum Heang, head of the Pailin Cassava Association, which represents 52 cassava-growing families in Pailin province, said yesterday the unglamorous root crop has always taken a distant second place to rice on the government’s agenda. “The cassava industry is struggling and is in a worse predicament than rice, yet we never get the same level of attention from the government as the rice sector, which has received state support in the form of emergency loans and marketing,” Heang said. Cassava is Cambodia’s largest agricultural export crop by tonnage, and believed to be the second-biggest by value after rice. The cash crop, which has never been a staple of the Cambodian diet, is cultivated on nearly 600,000 hectares, yielding about 13 million tonnes a year for export.