Cambodia’s untapped potential in niche agriculture: Robert Chelliah’s perspective

PHNOM PENH: development has benefited from 's geographical location. The Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, Cambodia's Trade Integration Strategy 2019-2023, and Agriculture Development Strategy 2019-2023 recognize agriculture as a key enabler to drive Cambodia's economic growth, job creation, and social advancement.

This can be achieved by focusing on moving up the agricultural value chain by producing agricultural commodities with added value, research and development, capacity-building, product diversification, targeting new export destinations, and improving product quality.

For Cambodia's agriculture sector, there is untapped potential in some niche markets such as organic products or sustainable agriculture. Cambodia's agriculture sector also offers market opportunities for agricultural inputs and machinery; investment opportunities in mid-downstream supply chain activities; and opportunities in contract farming.

Robert Chelliah, the founder of LEXMIN, an Australian-affiliated company based in Cambodia that specializes in producing dietary supplements and nutritional food crops to international food safety standards said food security is a growing concern globally while at the same time, the demand for better nutrition is increasing. Food supplements represent a market of $ 54 billion in the US only.

He sees Cambodia could grab this huge potential market. Cambodia offers an interesting perspective in this field: the quality of soil is very rich, particularly in the mountains, the country has the manpower and great natural resources, and it is easy to set up a company. There are some challenges linked to the climate and the need to improve agricultural practices, capacity to export, and add value.

However it is not easy to compare with countries like Vietnam, but he mentioned that Cambodia retains some competitive advantage in the field of organic products in comparison with large commodities like rice. Horticulture offers many niche opportunities that can be seized.

Cambodian nine crops/products were selected as having the best prospects for future development and export. The report assesses the characteristics of each crop in the context of market intelligence, global trade of certain varieties, technical requirements, standards, and opportunities for Cambodia to penetrate global markets as a new player.

Nine export crops/products – mango, dried banana chips, longan, avocado, cashew, sweet potato, chilies, sesame, and palm sugar – were shortlisted using the methodology above. The crops/products selected are in very strong demand globally, driven by powerful marketing campaigns and supported by effective sector marketing.

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