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FAO in Cambodia

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Cambodia has made a significant progress in economic growth and poverty reduction. The economic growth of Cambodia over the past two decades (1994‐2015) averaged 7.6 percent per year, ranking sixth in the world. It is driven by the garment industry (which represents 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports and 1/3 of GDP), construction, the service sector, in particular tourism, and agriculture.

Propelled by this drastic growth, Cambodia achieved lower middle‐income status in 2016 and, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has set as target to reach Higher-Middle Income status in 2030 and High Income status in 2050. Threats to this ambition include gradually rising minimum salaries in the garments sector which may erode the competitiveness of the sector. The rising salaries in the public sector which divert RGC resources while not adding to productivity or performance, the low growth rate in the agriculture sector and the generally low level of skills of the population and the mismatch of the existing skills with the requirements of employers also could be the obstacles lie in the way to upper-income status.

Cambodia will probably graduate from the Least-Developed Country (LDC) status by 2024. This implies that Cambodia has to phase out of preferential treatment by donors and partner countries, and the loss of preferential trade treatment. It is also impeded by some problems like insufficient sharing of the benefits from the high level of economic growth, as illustrated by the high levels of vulnerability and the underperformance of the health care and education systems.

Regarding poverty, the remarkable growth of the agricultural sector from 2004 to 2012 significantly contributed to alleviating it. The poverty rate fell from 47.8 percent in 2007 to 13.5 percent in 2014, refers that Cambodia has met and achieved MDG1, and is now expected to be below 10 percent. However, the vulnerability or the risk of sliding back into poverty still remains high in Cambodia. A very high proportion of the population lives only marginally above the poverty line. The multidimensional poverty headcount (2014) stands at 34.9% of the population. 

Agricultural growth has slowed down over the last five years (2013‐2017), where the growth averaged 1.0 percent per year. The slower growth can be attributed to several factors including limited land expansion, slower growth of productivity, limited diversification, price fluctuation, low investment in agro‐processing and effects of natural disaster e.g. El Niño effect in 2015. This indicates that agriculture is no longer a driver of economic growth. However, it will continue to be a crucial source and remain essential for poverty alleviation and vulnerability reduction of livelihood for a large majority of the population for many years to come, especially for the rural population who mainly rely on agriculture including crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries for their livelihoods.

In the midst of this slowdown in agricultural growth, Cambodia has been strived for food security and nutrition and has made noticeable improvements on them. Progress has been made on all fronts in implementing the priority actions for the National Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition (2014‐2018). Since much of the country’s cropland is highly vulnerable to the climate variability and extreme weather event, growing awareness in the country level of the impact of climate change is very encouraging in that it directly affects to crop productivity and food security.

The Country Programming Framework (CPF) 2019-2023 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Cambodia defines the development objectives for collaboration between FAO and the Royal Government of Cambodia for the period 2019-23 in support of the achievement of the priorities of the Royal Government.

The overarching goal of FAO’s programme in Cambodia is to contribute to the eradication of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition and to the sustainable management and use of the country’s natural resources.