Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cambodia Has Not Achieved to Produce Enough Silk to Meet the Demand – Tuesday, 22.9.2009

Posted on 23 September 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 631

“Phnom Penh: To develop silk production of Cambodia, which is still weak, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had decided to support a two-year project with US$470,000 (2009-2011). This project aims at improving the technical capacity to produce silk, to reproduce silk worm eggs and mulberry trees to feed the silk worms, to organize training courses, and to introduce new techniques to farmers. The signing ceremony for this project was organized on 17 September 2009 at the Council of Ministers, and the documents were singed by the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and the FAO representative to Cambodia, Mr. Ajay Markanday.

“Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said during the signing ceremony that the raising of silk worms to produce silk in Cambodia has not been successful so far, as Cambodia uses 400 tonnes of silk per year, while only 50 tonnes of silk are produced in the country. Therefore, Cambodia has to import up to 350 tonnes of raw silk per year. Mr. Sok An added that each year, Cambodia exports more than 200 tonnes, and the remaining 100 tonnes are used in Cambodia.

“Mr. Sok Ann went on to say that, globally, there is not much silk from silk producing countries such as Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Each country tries to produce silk by offering its achieved products, with quantity and quality. Thus, it is seen that most silk is costly and has good quality, making the demand of silk to increase, like in Cambodia, where 400 tonnes of silk are used, but the local production of raw silk is only 50 tonnes. The production of silk is a production which already has markets and buyers, and it is related to other sectors such as agriculture, industry, and commerce which create more jobs for the citizens.

“The secretary-general of the National Committee One Village One Product, Mr. Son Kunthor, said that Cambodia has the potential for silk production and has a tradition to produce silk since the Angkor era, but this tradition was lost. According to studies in other East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Cambodian government recognizes the silk sector as a really important strategic field to help increase income and to create jobs in rural areas. Therefore, the government considers the development of silk as a priority.

“The demand for raw silk countrywide is about 400 tonnes per year, while at present less than 50 tonnes can be produced in the country. Thus, Cambodia has to import silk from China and Vietnam with a price of US$25,000 per tonne. To sum up, Cambodia is losing about US$10 million per year to foreign farmers. At present, some development partners have helped providing technical assistance in Cambodia only about the methods to improve silk weaving, and to develop the silk markets. In 2001, there were about 10,000 silk-weaving families in Cambodia.

“The major problems in the silk sector relate to the production of the raw material – raw silk; they include: 1. Diseases of silk worms; 2. Low productivity of silk worm cocoons; 3. Not-so-good quality of the silk due to a lack of proper systems to untangle silk threads; and 4. technical shortages.

“This project will support the creation of a Silk Egg Center which can produce 5,000 cases of disease free silk eggs per year (with 20,000 silk worm eggs/case), the development of improved measures to untangle the silk threads from small silk cocoons using more efficient modern techniques and testing, and the creation of eight farms at the existing areas and at other potential regions, to introduce new technologies to study silk thread production, which includes also land for mulberry cropping (in Banteay Meanchey, Kampot, Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu, Pursat, Siem Reap, and Takeo, and we will expand it to other provinces if we have more resources). The training in techniques will help build up the capacity of officials and of producers, in order to enlarge productivity and to improve the quality of silk cocoons and threads for future stages of expansion.

“The silk sector is really important for the rural economy and for reducing poverty in Cambodia, because first, it helps to achieve higher prices compared to other crops such as rice; second, it creates more jobs for women; and third, it forms a regular flow of income for rural families.

“To assure the long term benefits, the import of 400 tonnes of silk will be replaced by local production, where 5,000 mulberry plants are planned to be planted, creating jobs for about 25,000 people in rural areas, and Cambodia can earn US$10 million per year. The silk sector provides an important support for the government policy to diversify the agriculture, which is currently focused mainly on paddy rice.

“As for the implementation, the National Committee One Village One Product is administered by an office of the Council of Ministers, it has sufficient qualification to coordinate the sharing of knowledge and to check the quality of silk. This office is administered by the project director, and it will check the implementation of the whole project, to share knowledge about silk, and monitor the progress of the project, together with other relevant ministries and agencies that work with the silk sector.

“The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery is the project leader, because it is in control of basic measures to be applied, and it has expert officials who can offer training for very cheap fees. This project will be implemented by the director-general of agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, closely cooperating with the project director.

“The implementation of the technical assistance project of the FAO has begun its first stage towards a long term effort to develop the silk sector, and this project specifically focuses on the exchange of techniques.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6759, 22.9.2009
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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

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