Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute conducted a series of value chain studies on potential crops that promote cross-border trade between the twin provinces of the countries in the Economic Corridors in order to upgrade the value chains and address the key issues that smallholder farmers face. The goal of value chain development is to improve household incomes, boost employment, reduce poverty as well as promote food security at the household level. The main objective is to identify the main problems affecting the crop value chain and propose interventions for value chain improvement.   

Maize was selected for the value chain study because it is one of the most suitable crops for cross-border trade in the Southern Economic Corridor. Cambodia imports hybrid seeds from Thailand and Vietnam, while Thailand and Vietnam import Cambodia’s maize.

The main problems in the maize value chain in Pailin include the decline in production and the lack of formal quality standards. The decline in maize production in recent years is attributed to a number of factors, such as changes in the maize cultivated area, the decline in productivity, and the lower profits from production. The decline in production is also associated with changes in global demand for maize and unstable import from Thailand over the past few years. Other problems include the use of poor quality seeds and agro-chemicals and the degradation of soil fertility. Inadequate farmer knowledge about soil management and the use of traditional production technology also affect product quality and productivity.

The absence of formal quality standards is associated with the lack of awareness among the responsible line agencies, lack of equipment/materials, and problem related to staff motivation and mobility. The lack of awareness is due to poor information flow, lack of capacity development for the staff of concerned agencies and the agency budget constraints.
Two areas of interventions are proposed to address productivity and production decline. Improving farmer’s productivity and profit margins can be achieved by the introduction of modern technologies in maize cultivation and the improvement of regulatory measures with respect to input supply and use. Problem areas such as changes in global demand and Thai producer subsidy policies are regarded as temporary constraints.

Similarly, there are two areas of interventions in formalizing quality standards for maize. These are improving the awareness and capacity of the responsible agencies and providing incentives to motivate staff to improve work performance.

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