Vegetables Left to Spoil on Kandal Farms as Farmers Can’t Find Buyers

2 min read
A farmer poses with his lettuce crop at his farm in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district. (Supplied)

Farmers in Kandal province say they each have thousands of dollars worth of vegetables spoiling in their fields because they can’t find buyers.

In Sa’ang district, an area known for vegetable growing, salad greens farmer Tai Song, 35, said growers all around were unable to find a market.

“Now is the time to harvest, but there are no buyers. So I feel regret because our salad greens are good. They are safe vegetables. They do not have any chemicals. So I can only announce to anyone who wants it, let them come and cut it,” Song said. “Because if I keep it [any longer], I will have to plow it [and remove it] to dry the soil.”

He grows about 30 tons of vegetables two to four times a year at his Sa’ang farm, and his current crop on 2.5 hectares cost him $5,000, he said.

“I will stop for a while … before planting again. All year there have been no buyers,” he said.

Neighbor and cabbage grower Hea Touch, 50, said he had spent over $1,000 on his half hectare, but he had already lost his vegetables after he failed to sell them.

He and other farmers were now struggling with debt, Touch said.

“Now every farmer is earning almost no money from growing vegetables. Everyone is making a loss,” he said, speculating that there were too many growers and imports.

Provincial agriculture department director Bun Tuon Simona acknowledged the lack of buyers for vegetables, especially for the many growers in Sa’ang.

He said Covid-19 had played a role in the difficulties, but declined to say what measures the department would take.

Theng Savoeun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, said the problem of unsold agricultural products was severe, and exacerbated by cheap imports.

“We [should] provide market opportunities for local farmers to sell. I think this is possible and stakeholders, both buyers and growers, must work together to find solutions,” Savoeun said.

The government has pushed agriculture this year as a solution to a slumping economy amid the global pandemic, with the garment and tourism sectors shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs.

(Translated and edited from the original story on VOD Khmer)

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the commune of one of the farms.

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