RUA, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Presented in a technical workshop on
Agricultural Transformation in Asia: Policy Options for Food and Nutrition
Security, 25-27 September 2013, Siem Reap, Cambodia
This review paper is attempting to provide an insight
to the Cambodian crop production systems, with more
emphasis on rice and maize, constraints that the
systems are facing, and how seed production system
and policy could help transform agricultural system in
the country to the next step.
National Strategic Development Plan (2009-2013)
MAFF Annual Reports
CARDI Annual Reports
Cambodia Seed Law
Draft Seed Policies
Journal-reviewed papers by different authors
Approximately 80 percent of Cambodian lives in rural
areas and most of them are farmers. Agriculture
contributes about one third to the gross domestic
product, where half of this contribution comes from rice.
In 2010, the estimated GDP per capita for Cambodia is
$792.00, but more than 30% of the population still lives
below the national poverty line of one dollar per day.
As an agrarian country, Cambodia relies heavily on
agricultural production as its main source for
food, nutrition and income.
Cambodia has a total land area of about 18.1 million
ha, and about 3.9 million ha (21%) are cropped to
rice, maize, cassava, legumes, vegetables and others.
Seed Production Systems
Farmer Seed Production System.
This is a traditional method
applied by farmers for centuries
to source seed for their next
Classical Seed Production
System. It is a four classes
system: BS, FS, RS, CS
Major constraints on crop production
Productivity of major crops (rice and maize) remain low as compare to
the other countries in the region.
Water. More than 80% of rice and 90% of maize are produced in the
wet season and, in most cases, rain is the only source of water available
to the crop. The uncertainty of occurrence, distribution, duration and
amount of rainfall affect significantly the productivity of these two crop
Soil. Rice soil is particularly sandy, low pH and with poor response to
fertilizer application. Salinity is also widely distributed.
Insects pests. Many kinds of pests and diseases are found in crop
productions. The present of these pests and diseases affect
substantially to both productivity and quality of the produce.
Variety and seed. Cultivation of improved rice varieties by the
Cambodian farmers is still limited particularly in the rainfed lowland
environments. In maize production, most hybrid varieties from
Thailand and Vietnam are cultivated and, only two locally developed
open pollinated varieties (OPV) are limited used.
Major issues: budget
Recurrent allocation of the national budget to
agricultural sector is not only low as compare to other
sectors, but declined from about 2.5% in 2005 to 1.7%
National research institutions are critically under
resourced. Variety development and release is slow,
and only 4 rice varieties were able to release for the last
Seed production sector in Cambodia is still not well
developed and under-resourced.
Major issues: seeds
Use of quality seed in rice production in Cambodia is
still comparatively low. Over 90% of seed used is
obtained by saving on farm, or by exchange within the
Imported maize hybrid varieties are sometime
obsolete with very variable quality, but they are still
Seed of any quality can be sold in Cambodia and there
is no basis for legal action against a supplier of inferior
seed, even if it failed to germinate and/or contains
dangerous insect pests.
Major issues: seed policy
No national seed quality standards have yet been published
under the seed law
Low recognition/lack of concept of quality seed and its
values to the national and household economy by farming
communities and policy makers. This is explained by poor
distinction between the words grain/paddy, seed and
Seed is traded freely without government control or any
sort of seed quality monitoring.
No clear regulation or policy of how to take legal action
against supplier of poor quality seed or fake seed.
Seed price is highly variable as it is dictated by individual
Planting of unregistered varieties is widely practiced by
Cambodian economy still relies heavily on agriculture.
Therefore any development in this sector can have a
significant impact to improve national economy through
the improvement of small holding farmer income.
Productivity of rice and maize has increased significantly
for the last two decades, but even though it is still lag
behind many other countries in the region and the world.
Contributing to a slow development of new variety and
seed sector in Cambodia are deficit of capital and policy
Cambodian Seed Law has been adopted for more than 5
years but it is still not fully functioning. National seed
policy is still in draft form and there is no indication when
this policy will get endorsed by the government.
Enforce the implementation of the seed law by making all
Establish the national seed council with a clear role to
oversee quality seed production system and seed export
and import, and to ensure the only quality seed to be
distributed and marketed in the country.
Enhance the endorsement of seed policy by the
Develop a national seed quality standard and a well-
equipped independent seed laboratory at the national
Develop national list of crop varieties cultivated by farmers
and make compulsory variety registration including those
originated outside the country.
Strengthen institutional capability on seed
production, testing and monitoring.
Increase awareness on improved varieties and quality
seed as the key factors for crop improvement.
Improve management of farmer seed production
Increase investment on agricultural research and
particularly on breeding program for major crop
Develop national fund for a sensible credit system that
is easily available for local seed production and