Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen is dreaming to create what he called “a Green Belt”. Talking during the National Clean City Day celebrations, the Prime Minister hopes to see the Green Belt established around the Kingdom’s main tourist areas. It would then be able to supply travellers with locally produced vegetables and meat, instead of importing them from neighbouring countries.
Cambodia National Clean City Day had the theme “Clean City Provides Warmth to People and Tourists.”
The prime minister added that he wanted the Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to work together to set up a Green Belt for tourists. “Why do we import products, when we are able to give to our tourists fresh vegetable grown locally and meat produced in the country,” asked Cambodia Prime Minister. Last year, according to MAFF, Cambodia imported meat worth nearly $100 million and vegetables valued at $250 million.
Echoing the speech of Hun Sen, Khim Bunsong, the governor of Siem Reap estimates that ” For food safety purposes it is better to serve tourists, both local and foreign, with chemical-free vegetables and meat produced without the use of steroids and antibiotics,” said Mr. Bunsong.
The governor explained to the Khmer Times that Siem Reap local provincial authorities are collaborating with other bodies to meet local demand in markets, restaurants and hotels. “We are trying with relevant officials and non-government organizations to establish areas where chemical-free vegetables can be grown to meet the needs of restaurants and hotels catering to tourists.”
The establishment of organic farms would also position Cambodia as an agro-tourism destination where visitors will enjoy to see farming production and see how to keep quality and freshness of local products. Agro-tourism is already very popular in countries such as Thailand or Vietnam.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, also agreed with the PM new Green Belt concept. “Star-rated hotels and restaurants need organic vegetables and quality meat to serve to their customers,” told Mr. Vandy to local media. “If we meet their needs, it will be good not only for tourism but also for the income of farmers.”
Research conducted by the Center for Policy Studies indicated that 200 to 400 metric tons of vegetables are imported daily from neighboring countries. The research also found that between $150 million and $250 million is spent annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China.
In a bid to curb capital outflow, the government has designated eight provinces to start boosting vegetable production from this year in a project called Boosting Food Projection 2017-2019. Some US$ 20 million have been set for that purpose.