Tech Crucial for Agriculture to Thrive

Cambodia’s agricultural sector must embrace science, technology and innovation to thrive as it faces a raft of challenges that range from a lack of technical skills and low productivity, through to climate change, a new report reveals.
Vegetables on sale at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Vegetables on sale at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Cambodia’s agriculture sector faces a raft of challenges, including low productivity, low quality products, lack of technical skills, unmatched demand and supply, lack of trade facilitation mechanisms, research and development, climate change, and pandemic impact.

However, in its Agricultural Technology Roadmap 2022, the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation (MISTI) said,

“Cambodia must embrace science, technology and innovation, which is considered as a backbone for the national economy growth by many countries.”

It added this is essential “to thrive the agricultural sector to be on a par with neighbors and enable the ‘catch-up’ to happen; and in turn to increase productivity, enhance the efficiency, and promote quality standards for exports”.

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The AgriTech roadmap envisions that in the long-term, “Cambodia shall encompass highly sophisticated technologies from industry 4.0, including sensor/sensor network, biotechnology, drone, robotic, GIS/remote sensing, fintech, and others.”

It also urges that safety, standard, and branding are crucial to bring the highest possible value creation for agricultural commodities and to integrate into the global supply chain.

Farm mechanization, water management, irrigation systems, fertilizer and animal feed, E-registration, screening and breeding, preservation technology, and market information platform are crucial for the short-term.

The roadmap, concluded with identified agri-technologies, recommends,

“To realize the goal to increase productivity and high value added of agricultural commodities for global supply chain through technology and innovation by 2030.”

Endorsed by the National Council of Science, Technology & Innovation (NCSTI), the 51-page work highlights that machinery, automation, data driven and real-time deep learning technologies have become indispensable in modern agriculture and farming.

The new publication, cited “Agriculture 4.0: the Future of Farming Technology” from the World Government Summit 2018, says the coming agricultural revolution must be a green one, with science and technology at its heart.

“Agriculture 4.0 will need to look at both the demand side and the value chain/supply side of the food-scarcity equation, using technology not simply for the sake of innovation but to improve and address the real needs of consumers and reengineer the value chain.”

Identified last year as a top priority sector, amid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, MISTI’s 2022 AgriTech roadmap aims to improve productivity and output in the agriculture sector with strategic recommendations.

In Cambodia, agriculture accounts for 22 percent of total GDP, estimated at $5.3 billion, and employs up to 30.8 percent of total employment. However, 45 percent of Cambodians live in moderate or severe food insecurity, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

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