Country Profiles

National Industry

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.

The statistics2 in Table 1 provide an overview of the cattle and beef industry in Cambodia. Based on the data from Department of Animal Health and Production3 , the country had 3.43 million cattle head in 2013 (including draught cattle which account for 40-50% of the total cattle number). Growth in cattle numbers in Cambodia is modest (1.1% per annum).
The official slaughter numbers were relatively low compared to other ASEAN countries, at over 100,000 head (growing at 3.3% per annum). The official slaughter levels are lower than the actual slaughtered as the figures may be underestimated, and illegal slaughtering is not included. The low turnoff rate clearly reflects the un-commercialised beef cattle systems in Cambodia. Due to the low turnoff rate, the growth in beef supply per capita in Cambodia increased only slowly over the period 2000-2013 (1.7%).

2 Data is provided by Department of Animal Health and Production. Cattle numbers are reported at the end of each fiscal year (mid year) which are the same as the FAO data. Data on buffaloes and buffalo meat is not included.
3 Department of Animal Health and Production is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The cattle industry in Cambodia is still at a early stage of development. The industry is influenced by a number of drivers. Firstly, Cambodia is increasingly integrating with the region and has enjoyed a decade of macroeconomic stability and growth. The economic reforms initiated in the mid-1980s have progressed the country towards a market economy, including the liberalisation of domestic markets and privatisation of state-owned companies. The GDP growth was at 7.4% in 2013 (World Bank, 2014). Inflation has been low for a number of years, and the exchange rate is relatively stable. As incomes rise, the demand for meat, particularly beef in the country is growing which has stimulated domestic beef production.

Secondly, demand for cattle and cattle products from Vietnam and China has rapidly increased in the past few years. This includes the demand for feeder cattle with high growth potential for feedlotsin these countries. As a result, the development of cattle industry in Cambodia requires significant intensification to consistently supply cattle. However, cattle production in Cambodia is known to be limited by poor husbandry and animal health practices (MAFF, 2013). This affects the country’s ability to legally export cattle unless Cambodia takes concrete steps, in particularly to create an FMD-free zone (Ear, 2005).

Figure 1 below indicates that Cambodian cattle herd increased from 2.9 million head in 2000 to 3.4 million head in 2013. However cattle numbers have steadily declined since 2009 mainly due to mechanisation in cultivation and transportation (MAFF, 2013). This also increased slaughter number (Figure1).

The slaughter number5 shows a fluctuation but in an increase trend. The official slaughter number reached a peak at 115,973 head in 2011, and then dropped to 108,272 head in 2013. The sharp increase in the turnoff number since 2008 was due to: (1) increase in the demand from Vietnam and China; (2) increased mechanisation reduced the need for draught cattle, thus more cattle were brought for draughter. However, the official figures might be under-estimated and did not record illegal slaughtering (MAFF, 2013).

The official beef production figures were based on the slaughter number. The average weight per head for this estimation was 250 kg, with carcass weight 120 kg/head (MAFF, 2013). The cattle meat production increased slowly from 8,764 tonnes in 2001 to 12,992 tonnes in 2013 (Figure 1). These official figures seem to be understated as the turnoff number was under-estimated, and illegal slaughtering was not recorded.

Figure 1: Cattle production in Cambodia

figure1-cam5 Official figures reported from Provincial Offices of Animal Health and Production

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