The population of Cambodia is 15.14 million with over 80% depending on agriculture for their livelihood (World Bank, 2014). Using the official poverty lines introduced by the Cambodian government in 2013, the poverty rate in the country fell sharply from 47.8% in 2007 to 18.9% in 2012 (ADB, 2014b). However, regional differences persist, and about 90% of the poor live in rural areas.
Agriculture remains one of the dominant sectors in the national economy. Agriculture has grown at an average annual rate of 4.5% during 2008–2013 and contributed about 34% to the national gross domestic product during the same period (ADB, 2014a). According to the National Institute of Statistics (2013), the sector employed about 72.3% of Cambodia’s workforce in 2012, mainly organised in small farms.
The livestock industry contributes to about 12.8% of the agriculture GDP and approximately 6 % of total GDP (MAFF, 2013). Most livestock are raised by smallholders.
Livestock, especially cattle, support the livelihoods of around 1.4 million smallholders by providing draught power, means of transport, organic fertiliser, meat, and as an asset and source of savings. Traditionally, cattle have been raised for draught power, and have poor body condition, low reproductive rates and a susceptibility to diseases (MAFF, 2013). Cattle raising has potential in Cambodia, but is largely constrained by limited extension and veterinary services as well as weak marketing channels throughout rural areas.
Cambodia is a net exporter and a transit country for cattle in the Mekong region. The production of livestock meets the relatively modest domestic demand for livestock products. Complex trade regulation both in domestic and export markets mean that exports through formal channels represent a small proportion of total exports.
Up until 2008, the majority of cattle flows through Cambodia were to Thailand after which the direction of cattle flows reversed. Due to the strong demand in the region particularly in Vietnam and China since 2008, cattle movement has been from Myanmar/Thailand, transiting in Cambodia, to Vietnam and China.