Socio-economic context and role of agriculture
Cambodia is a low income country in the Southeast Asia region. Agriculture contributed 37 percent to the GDP and employed about 67 percent of the workforce in 2012. Most Cambodian farmers are smallholders with less than two hectares per household. The country’s agricultural resources consist primarily of 3.7 million hectares of cultivated land, of which 75 percent is devoted to rice, primary commodity and source of income for the majority of farmers and 25 percent to other food and industrial crops, primarily rubber. Freshwater and marine fisheries and aquatic resources provide employment to over three million people. Fish is also a major source of protein in the domestic diet.
On average, agricultural GDP growth in Cambodia has lagged behind the industrial and service sectors but maintained a sustained annual rate between 4 and 5 percent during the last decade. In 2013, agricultural production increased by 4.3 percent with a paddy harvest at record levels (about 9.3 million tonnes). Rice production has registered significant productivity improvements in terms of both labour and land. Paddy is also a key commodity for exports: in 2013, Cambodia exported a record level of 1.2 million tonnes of rice, accounting for more than 3 percent of the total worldwide rice exports.
The country has experienced rapid economic growth since 1993, with an annual GDP growth of 7.3 percent in 2012.
The poverty rate has decreased by more than half since 2007, but one-fifth of the population is still living below the poverty line and income inequality has increased. Despite good success in reducing undernourishment over the last two decades (proportion of undernourished in total population declined from 39 percent in 1990/92 to 15 percent in 2011/13), the country seems unlikely to meet the 4th Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality rate by two thirds by 2015