WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Cambodia from 15 to 30 January, 1997, to estimate the 1996/97 wet (main) season rice harvest, forecast 1996/97 dry (secondary) season rice production, and evaluate the national cereal outlook for 1997. The Mission reviewed data and information from various sources, including Government, UN agencies, donors, and NGOs at central, provincial and local level. Farmers were also interviewed during field visits in different provinces. During its assessment the Mission visited major rice growing provinces: Siem Reap, Takeo, Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampot and Battambang.
The Mission estimates production of main, wet season paddy at 2.733 million tons for 1996/97 and forecasts output of the second, dry season irrigated crop at 0.657 million tons, giving a total of 3.390 million tons, about 2 per cent above estimated 1995/96 production and 35 per cent higher than the average for the previous five years.
Favourable rainfall over most of the country benefited planting and development of the 1996 wet season rice crop. A reported increase in fertilizer use may also have been helpful. But floods struck during September/October in several provinces including the major rice growing provinces of Battambang, Kandal, Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Pursat and Takeo, causing widespread damage to standing crops. In certain areas, rats and other pests also caused some damage. As a result, the favourable outlook initially was somewhat constrained by crop destruction in certain places and reduced yield: 1.67 tons/ha, compared to 1.75 tons/ha in 1995/96. In spite of the damage and reduction in yield, total output was still higher than last year’s as a result of an increase in harvested area.
The total availability of rice for 1997 is estimated at 2.120 million tons, based on a milling rate of 62 per cent and an estimated stock carry-over of 18 000 tons. The national requirement of rice for human consumption, seed and feed and allowing for post harvest losses, is estimated at 1.993 million tons. There is thus a surplus of 127 000 tons.
Although, 1997 is the second year in succession that the country will have a rice surplus after many years, the estimated surplus is somewhat lower than in 1996, due to production loss, mainly due to widespread floods in several provinces. There is also no certainty as to how the weather will behave next year or the year after. Again, due to a net unrecorded cross border export of rice from Cambodia, the extent of which is unknown, the actual surplus may be smaller than the quantity estimated above. Moreover, large segments of population in many communes face various degrees of food shortage in 1997. While market forces will play a role in determining the extent of rice exports and imports, the Government is urged to be cautious in actively encouraging rice exports in 1997.
Indeed, given the inadequacy of the emerging marketing system and transport difficulties, movement of rice from surplus to deficit areas remains problematic. It is recommended donors make local purchases for their programmes to assist vulnerable people..
A large number of households in an estimated 265 communes face severe food shortages. The exact number of vulnerable people, however, is yet to be ascertained. An assessment is currently being made by WFP in association with its implementing partners. The number may be fairly large and the total quantity of rice required may be substantial. However, in the interim, assuming no widespread displacement of people, some 43 000 tons of rice and 1 600 tons of other commodities would be needed in 1997 to support the most vulnerable people in various communes. This is sufficient to support 1.1 million people, excluding institutional feeding and training activities, for about three months. However, the situation will need to be reviewed after the on-going assessment has been completed. In addition it is recommended that another 25 000 tons of rice be purchased locally by the Government with donor support for emergency stock for future eventualities. The purchase of such stock would also support farm gate rice prices and encourage farmers to increase production. The total food aid requirement including emergency rations for vulnerable groups and emergency stock to be kept by Government, therefore, amounts to 68 000 tons. As of 1 January 1997 WFP held stocks of 21 070 tons of rice, leaving a shortfall of some 21 930 tons needed to make up the 43 000 tons required for emergency and food for work purposes for vulnerable groups.
1/[ Sources of information include: Ministry of Economics and Finance, RGC Economic and Financial Review, 4th Quarter. Country Position Paper, World Food Summit, Ministry of Planning, First Socio-Economic Development Plan 1996-2000.]
The Royal Cambodian Government has been pursuing a policy of accelerating economic growth and social development within the framework of a market economy. The Socio-economic Development Plan 1996-2000 has signalled the intensification of the process towards developing a fully-fledged market economy. However, the passage from a command to a market economy is not easy, and it will require continued endeavour on the part of the Government , the business community and others concerned to improve the functioning of the market economy.
The economy has grown at a healthy average annual rate of 5.9 per cent in the period 1991 to 1995 and the estimated growth rate for 1996 is 6.0 per cent. The per caput GDP has correspondingly increased from US$ 200 in 1993 to an estimated US$ 292 in 1996, which is still one of the lowest in the world. The economy is overwhelmingly rural and agricultural: 85 per cent of the population live in rural areas and 80 per cent of the labour force is in the agricultural sector. Agriculture is mostly rainfed and subject to high risk, due to substantial variations in the quantity and distribution of rainfall. The sector is dominated by crop production, mainly rice, which is the main staple, accounting for an estimated 68 per cent of energy intake. The need to diversify crop production to reduce dependence on rice and for the rural economy to expand income earning scope and prospects is recognised, but little has so far been done with respect to either.
Employment opportunities outside agriculture are extremely limited. Agriculture also accounts for some 42 per cent of the country’s GDP. Rural and agricultural development is, therefore, the most essential prerequisite for the country’s overall development and the key to that process is a major thrust in the rehabilitation and expansion of rural infrastructure such as roads and irrigation facilities, which were again damaged by the recent floods, and social infrastructure (education, health). These needs have been recognised in the First Plan. The main objectives of the Plan in this context are to improve food security, expand economic opportunities for the people, and accelerate national economic growth. Promotion of non-farm activities is of crucial importance towards expanding economic opportunities and access to food. Indeed, due emphasis should be given to poverty alleviation through employment generation for the poor and improved productivity, as policies and programmes are pursued for accelerating economic growth by encouraging increased domestic and foreign investment.
The agricultural sector is also characterised by low, unbalanced use of fertilizers, very limited use of improved rice varieties and irrigation and low yields. Moreover, vagaries of weather such as floods and droughts result in some crop loss almost every year and substantial crop loss once every few years. The sector is dominated by subsistence agriculture, where farmers have very little capacity to modernise and benefit from opportunities of an evolving market economy. Therefore the Government will, as the market economy evolves, need to provide assistance to them widely and effectively in terms of agricultural infrastructure including irrigation, extension services to improve fertilizer and other input use, and in the dissemination of information on improved farm practices and market information (e.g. information on availability and prices of various inputs, and current prices of rice and other crops). An underdeveloped and highly fragmented agricultural marketing system, characterised by a large number of small-scale localised operators with limited access to market information to make decisions, is another limitation of the sector. Farmers are particularly disadvantaged due to lack of access to market information, particularly price information. Inadequate transport infrastructure and lack of rural credit and market facilities are also serious constraints. Moreover, old and inefficient rice mills pose problems in terms of low recovery rates and high percentages of broken grains.
Reliable statistical information on agriculture is difficult to obtain. To help the Mission make an accurate assessment of rice production in Cambodia for the 1996/97 season, a special crop assessment survey was undertaken to provide data on area, production and yield of rice, as well as other information such as population. The survey involved reports on crop conditions submitted by each commune and crop cutting surveys to estimate rice yields.
Rainfall distribution varies between regions, with an average in excess of 3 000 mm per annum in western coastal regions, between 1 800 and 3 000 mm in the areas east of the Mekong River and around 1 100 to 1 700 mm in the central area. Rainfall can vary widely from year to year and this has a major effect on crop production, both in terms of yield, and the cropping pattern adopted. Farmers can obtain two short duration crops of rice if the early rains are good.
Monthly rainfall can vary widely from year to year. For Phnom Penh, the maximum rainfall in the months of September and October has on occasion been six times the minimum rainfall for those months. This variation in rainfall intensity has a major effect on land preparation, cultivation and harvesting. In 1996, rainfall in Kompong Cham was 2 047 mm, compared to a long term average of 1 455 mm, a variation of almost 41 per cent. Rainfall in Pursat in 1994 was 1 326 mm, while in the following year it was over 48 per cent higher at 1 967 mm.
In the important rice growing area of Battambang Province, heavy rains early in the 1996 season caused flooding of rice fields, preventing broadcast planting, while further heavy rains in September prevented farmers from fertilizing and cultivating crops, which led to lower yields in the affected areas.
The influence of the Mekong floods is of paramount importance to crop production in Cambodia. The waters carry a heavy silt load, which is annually deposited on the fields during the flood period. Deposits can vary from 300-600 grams per cubic metre, leading to annual deposits of 3-30 cm, depending on the topography of the land near the river. Silt and water are rich in lime and have a pH of from 6.3 to 7.4.
The Tonle Sap lake, which is fed by the Mekong, is reported to be flooding ever greater areas of land in recent years. In 1996 large crop areas were lost in southern Battambang and Siem Reap provinces due to expansion of lake area. However, the sustained flood assisted crops of floating rice, which were reported to be the best crop for many years. Deforestation in the catchment area of the Mekong and in the hills north and east of the lake is thought to have an influence on the amount of flooding.
While agriculture is the predominant economic sector in Cambodia, the amount of land used for agricultural purposes is only a small proportion of the total available. Non-forested land accounts for 38 per cent of the country, or 6.66 million hectares. Rice is by far the most important crop, accounting for over 90 per cent of production area. Of this, the Mission estimates that in 1996/97, only 1.87 million hectares were cultivated to wet season rice, and 0.219 million hectares to dry season rice, bringing the total cultivated area under rice to 2.1 million ha, or approximately one third of the land said to be available for cultivation.
Table 1: Cambodia: Production of paddy rice by type 1996/97
|Wet season||1 640||88.2||2 733||80.6||1 670|
|Dry land paddy||219||11.8||657||19.4||3 000|
|TOTAL||1 859||100.0||3 390||100.0||1 820|
1 Rounded to the nearest thousand
Rice is the staple food providing an estimated 68 per cent of daily calorie intake. The rest of the diet is made up of fish, meat, tubers, vegetables and fruits. The main rice crop is produced in the wet season between May and December. A number of different varieties are planted with medium and late maturing varieties accounting for about three-quarters of the total area planted in the wet season. Early maturing varieties are planted on around one-fifth of the area cultivated in the season, while floating rice and upland rice represent approximately 4 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively of the planted area. These proportions are, however, subject to change from year to year, depending on the season. In practice, farmers’ decisions as to which variety or type of rice to plant are based on tradition and prevailing rainfall patterns. Floating rice is diminishing in terms of area planted and replaced by plantings on receding water tables. Upland rice, based on slash and burn techniques, has remained fairly stable over the years.
Irrigation infrastructure, which suffered major damage as a consequence of war and civil strife sustained further damage during the 1996 floods. As a result, dry season production prospects appear to be much below potential. However, given that the dry season yield is likely to be double that of the wet season, dry season rice production in 1996/97 may account for close to a fifth of the year’s total rice production, although the dry season area harvested may be only 11-12 per cent of the total area harvested.
There was a serious shortage of rice in 1994/95 season, but this was followed by a good crop, amounting to 3.318 million tons in 1995/96, from an area of 1.782 million hectares, 1.592 million ha in wet season and 0.191 million ha in the dry season. This was 40 per cent above 1994/95 production and 30 per cent above the average production for the previous five years. For 1996/97, the Mission estimates that the area planted under wet season rice was 1.871 million ha and forecasts 0.219 million ha under dry rice season rice. Compared to 1995/96 the area planted in the wet season increased by almost 5 per cent and that in the dry season may increase by about 15 per cent. The harvested area in the wet season was 1.640 million ha, some 3 per cent above 1995/96. The wet season harvested area was lower than the planted area, as s result of the crop loss mainly due to floods, but rats and pests also caused some damage. Also, mainly as a result of flood damage yields of wet season rice were down in 1996/97 to 1.67 tons per harvested ha from 1.75 tons per harvested ha in the previous year. The average yield in the dry season is forecast to increase from 2.8 tons/ha in 1995/96 to 3.0 tons/ha in 1996/97. These yield levels are well below the potential achievable, given good land preparation, efficient water control, adequate fertilizer and effective integrated pest management practices.
Major rice producing areas are in the lower altitude areas around Tonle Sap lake and along the major rivers, of which the Mekong River is by far the largest. These areas are naturally vulnerable to flooding, which on the one hand provides natural fertility from the silt settlement but also may cause serious crop losses in years of severe flooding. In 1994/95, for example, floods caused losses of about 424 00 hectares. Compared to that, the 1995/96 wet season was favourable with only 196 000 hectares estimated to be totally lost, 90 per cent of which due to floods and the balance due to diseases and pests. In 1996/97, the area totally lost was again somewhat higher at 231 000 ha. Rainfall in the 1996/97 season was generally favourable in most areas of the country favouring planting and early crop development. There was a longer than usual dry spell in July in some areas, notably Siem Reap which caused some crop loss. Later, heavy rains in September caused widespread floods in several provinces causing substantial crop damage and preventing fertilizer applications.
Although not very important in the total context of food production, some other crops are also grown (Table 2). The combined area harvested under these crops amounted to an estimated 170 000 ha in 1995/96, accounting for about 9.0 per cent of the total area harvested under all crops, including rice. In 1996/97 the indications are that the area under these crops will be about the same or somewhat lower. Among these crops, maize is the most important, in terms of area, followed by vegetables. Less important crops include cassava, sweet potatoes, mung beans, soya beans and groundnuts. In areas with high population densities, such as the provinces of Kandal, Kompong Cham and Kompong Speu, farmers tend to grow crops which are more profitable than rice. These provinces are deficient in rice, while less densely populated areas such as Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Prey Veng, Kampot, Kompong Chhnang and Takeo all produce surpluses of rice.
Table 2: Cambodia: Area (harvested), production and yield of crops other than rice (1994/95 and 1995/96)
|Area (‘000 ha)||Production (‘000 tons)||Yields (kg/ha)|
|Maize||37||45||45||55||1 220||1 220|
|Cassava||10||12||65||82||6 500||6 610|
|Vegetables||34||39||197||193||5 790||4 920|
|Soya bean||22||16||23||17||1 050||1 070|
|Sweet potato||10||9||36||39||3 600||4 160|
|Sugar cane||7||7||219||203||31 290||27 290|
Livestock form a very important part of the agricultural and food economy of Cambodia. Over 90 per cent of the draught power for land cultivation is provided by oxen and buffalo. The Department of Animal Production and Health estimate that there were 1.3 million draught cattle and 444 000 buffalo at the end of 1995. The draught animals, particularly cattle, seen by the Mission in the early dry season were in generally poor condition. The main fodder source for these working animals is rice straw and poor grazing provided by rice stubble. As these animals are so poorly nourished during the dry season, their working efficiency is much impaired during land preparation in April/May. No fodder crops are grown to supplement the diet of livestock.
The numbers of pigs and poultry, including ducks, in 1995 were 2.0 million and 10.1 million, respectively. Both pigs and poultry provide a very important source of income and food, but mortality rates are reported to be extremely high, due to poor nutrition and inadequate veterinary services. These problems will be addressed by the proposed Livestock Development Component of the World Bank/IFAD Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project.
Agricultural inputs such as fertilizers seem to be available in certain areas, particularly along the main roads. However, many farmers cannot afford to use them. The quality of fertilizers available in the market is also questionable. Pesticides were reported to be used very inefficiently, often applied at the wrong time and at the wrong rate. Sometimes, even the wrong material is used.
1/[ Balance sheet is prepared for rice only, although some 50 000-60 000 tons of maize and some amounts of other cereals are produced. Maize is in fact mostly eaten in green form and all these cereals are used as supplementary food with rice being the staple.]
In deriving the rice balance sheet for 1996/97, the Mission used the following estimates and assumptions:
The balance sheet, set out in Table 3, shows a surplus of 127 000 tons of rice for 1997. The situation by province is shown in Table 4. But, this estimated national level surplus notwithstanding, a significant number of people in a large number of communes face food shortages of various durations in 1997. There being little employment opportunities outside agriculture, these people also lack purchasing power to buy their own food. Their needs should therefore be addressed through emergency feeding in certain cases, but mostly through programme food aid activities. This is discussed further in the next section.
Given the inadequacy of the emerging marketing system and transport difficulties, movement of rice from surplus to deficit areas remains problematic. It is recommended that WFP and bilateral donors make local purchases for their programmes to assist vulnerable people. In addition, the Government, with donor support, is recommended to buy and keep a stock of some 25 000 tons of rice for emergency purposes. These purchases will support farm gate rice prices, thereby encouraging farmers to increase production.
Table 3: Cambodia: Rice balance sheet 1997 (January/December)
|1. Total availability (2+3)||2 120|
|2. 1996/97 production||2 102|
|Wet season (estimate)||1 694|
|Dry season (forecast)||408|
|3. Opening stocks||18|
|4. Total utilization (9+10)||2 120|
|5. Food use||1 618|
|6. Feed and seed||147|
|7. Post-harvest losses||211|
|8. Closing stocks||18|
|9. Subtotal (5+6+7+8)||1 992|
1 Rounded to the nearest thousand
The Mission confirms a good 1996/97 harvest with an overall national surplus in 1997. But, a significant number of people in many communes still face rice shortages of differing degrees. These shortages are a consequence of crop losses due to: flooding in some areas, poor rainfall in other areas, some pest infestation, limited availability of land or for one of several other reasons. Poverty persists and development as well as humanitarian assistance, for which food aid is an appropriate vehicle, given that 80 per cent of the population are subsistence farmers, must be provided as short-term support to the most vulnerable communities. To determine the number of communes affected, the commune level data from the special crop assessment survey will be combined with Community Assessment data on socio-economic aspects collected in conjunction with the Ministry of Rural Development. From the crop assessment data alone, it is estimated by using some basic assumptions on land availability and the number of households growing rice in the communes that some 265 communes are affected (about 19 per cent of all communes in the 18 main rice growing provinces). There is, therefore, a need for both programme food aid and in some cases emergency assistance to enable vulnerable people to meet their minimum food requirements and to rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure to improve agricultural performance. While there will still be some emergency feeding needs, a large portion of food aid will be implemented through food-for-work activities.
The results of the Community Assessment Survey, used in conjunction with commune-level crop production data resulting from the Crop Assessment exercise will determine the final target commune list and their food aid needs. The target commune list will identify selected communes where food-for-work schemes will be implemented during 1997. Based on past experience and assuming that no further widespread displacement of people will occur, the food aid needs to assist the most vulnerable communities during 1997 have been assessed to be around 43 000 metric tonnes of rice, plus some 1 600 metric tonnes of other commodities. This is sufficient to support 1.1 million people, discounting institutional feeding and training activities, for about three months. This total includes the most needy in all the vulnerable categories mentioned above.
It is also assumed that at any given time during the year an average estimate of 40 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) will be assisted either with emergency rations ("free food") or through food-for-work projects. In cases of immediate needs for IDPs, free rations for two or three weeks may be provided, with future assistance being dependent upon the recipients’ participation in nearby food-for-work activities. Vulnerable members of these displaced communities will still be given "free food". An emergency food aid stock to be held by the Royal Government of some 25 000 tons of rice, is also recommended.
Table 5 sets out the food aid requirements for 1997. As of 1 January 1997, WFP held a rice stock in-country of 2 470 tons, and had also secured additional commitments of 18 600 tons from various donors, of which the local purchase of 8 600 tons was underway. Additional donor contributions are required during the course of 1997 for the balance of 21 930 tons. With the availability of a rice surplus in Cambodia in 1997, WFP will, in consultation with donor countries, investigate the possibility of further local purchases of rice. With the exception of 1995, when the 1994/95 we season crop was drastically reduced, WFP purchased significant amount of Cambodian rice locally in recent years:
|1992:||4 000 tons|
|1993:||10 480 tons|
|1994:||6 043 tons|
|1996:||25 509 tons|
Table 4: Rice Balance by Province 1996/97
|1996 production after losses (‘000t)||Est. 1997 consumption (‘000t)||Est. surplus/deficit 1997 (‘000 t)|
|Province||Population 1997 (‘000)||1996 paddy production (‘000 t)||Post-harvest losses* (‘000 t)||Paddy||Milled rice||Paddy||Milled Rice||Paddy||Milled rice|
|COMPONG CHAM||1 561.2||363.0||61.7||301.3||186.8||380.7||236.1||(79.4)||(49.3)|
|PREY VENG||1 001.3||452.7||77.0||375.7||232.9||244.2||151.4||131.5||81.6|
|CAMBODIA||10 699.9||3 390.3||576.3||2 813.9||1 744.6||2 609.4||1 617.8||204.5||126.8|
* Includes grain used for seed, and animal feed.
Table 5: Food Aid (Rice) Balance 1996 (‘000 tons)
|1. Total food (rice) aid requirement in 1997 (2+3)_||68|
|2. Emergency and programme food aid||43|
|3. Emergency food aid stock build up||25|
|4. Total food aid availability (5+6)||68|
|5. WFP Stocks and Pipeline||21|
|6. Not yet covered||47|
While there will be a need for some limited emergency feeding, most of the food aid will be utilised through food-for-work activities, under a programme concept, for building or rehabilitating tertiary roads, irrigation canals and various other agricultural infrastructures. The WFP Programme stresses the participatory approach and encourages both village leaders and villagers to identify their own rehabilitation priorities. Once the project is appraised at the site, an agreement is signed between the village, WFP and the participating Government department, NGO, or International Organisation, specifying the estimated outputs and food payments. While the Ministry of Rural Development acts as the main implementing partner of the WFP programme, over 150 different NGOs, International Organisations and Government Departments are currently involved in the WFP-supported activities.
WFP currently has six regional sub-offices, each covering two or three provinces. The staff in the sub-offices are responsible for identifying, approving, monitoring and reporting on all village level food-for-work projects, and executing emergency assistance in their respective areas in close cooperation with the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC).
Logistics for the WFP programme are at present covered through an agreement between WFP and the CRC, the costs of which are met through ITSH funds. WFP is responsible for the receipt, primary transport and storage of all food commodities and operates warehouse facilities in six locations across the country. At present the CRC is responsible for secondary transport of food from WFP stores to distribution points for all WFP assisted programmes. For this purpose CRC operates and maintains a fleet of 62 WFP cargo trucks covered under the above agreement.
The surveys on crop production conducted jointly by FAO, WFP and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1995 and 1996 have generated a useful basis for crop assessment. It is recommended that the Government should now take over the full responsibility for such surveys in future. As required, assistance may be sought from FAO/WFP.
Irrigation structures, widely damaged during war and civil strife, have been further damaged by the 1996 floods. A Government report indicates that damage to dikes, canals, regulators and culverts were caused by the 1996 floods in 306 places in different provinces. It is strongly recommended, as was done by last year’s Mission, that rehabilitation of irrigation structures be undertaken to support agricultural rehabilitation and improvement. Moreover, new irrigation facilities may be constructed in suitable places to expand the area under dry season cultivation.
The 1996 floods reached a height of 16.11 metres over mean sea level at Kompong Cham, the highest level recorded since 1934. While irrigation facilities need to be improved and rehabilitated, the cause of the disastrous flooding needs to be seriously addressed.
The recommendation made by last year’s Mission that an in-depth study be undertaken to establish the level of post-harvest losses and to suggest practical ways of reducing such losses is reiterated here.
The institution and improvement of extension services relating to proper use of fertilizer, pest control, weed control and other agricultural practices should be a major priority.
As over 90 per cent of land preparation is achieved by animal traction, there is a need to improve the nutritional status of work oxen and buffaloes, particularly in the months leading up to the planting season.
With a view to improving access to food by the poor, an emphasis needs to be given to employment creation outside agriculture. Agro-processing and agro-support activities (for example, local manufacture of agricultural tools and implements) may be particularly worthwhile in the initial stages.
This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.