Previous East and South-East Asia region program
An information panel showing key details for the Pacific region.  2023 -24 program   Partner countries  Cambodia  China  Indonesia  Laos  Malaysia  Philippines  Thailand  Timor-Leste  Vietnam   82 projects  63 research projects  19 small research activities   A$34.05 million  Investment in agricultural research for development


Cambodia’s strategy of ‘living with COVID-19’ introduced in late 2021 is paying off. Economic recovery is gaining momentum with goods export growth accelerating and even besting its pre-pandemic growth rate.

According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s real GDP growth projection increased to 4.8% in 2022 due to a broad-based economic recovery. However, while recovery from COVID-19 is ongoing, Cambodia is potentially affected by a slowdown of global demand. Especially worrying is the vulnerability of Cambodia’s export-oriented manufacturing sector due to an extended slowdown in the United States of America. The same concern applies to its second-largest export market, the European Union, which is facing a substantial risk of recession. Additionally, China, Cambodia’s biggest source of foreign direct investments, is also experiencing an economic slowdown, which is already affecting investment and capital inflows.

In January 2022, the Cambodia–China Free Trade Agreement came into effect. This agreement makes China an important export destination for Cambodia’s agricultural commodities. China captured 40% (US$281 million) of Cambodia’s total agricultural commodity exports with the 3 largest agricultural commodity export items (bananas, milled rice and cassava).

Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, HE Mr Dith Tina, reported that the kingdom exported 8.6 million tonnes of agricultural products to 74 markets in 2022 and this was worth nearly US$5 billion. This is up by 7.8% compared to 2021. Agriculture contributed 22.2% of Cambodia’s 2022 GDP.

The Cambodia Agriculture Survey 2020, released in 2022, highlighted that 57% of total households in Cambodia are engaged in agricultural production. Of the households engaged in agriculture, 94% are cultivating crops, 82% are raising livestock, poultry or insects, and around 27% are involved in capture fishing. Agriculture remains important to livelihoods in Cambodia, with an estimated 31% of agricultural households citing that 40–59% of their income came from agriculture. A further 16% reported that 60–99% of their total household income came from agriculture.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on Cambodia’s food security. The Cambodia Agriculture Survey reported that 24.7% of agricultural households experienced moderate or severe food insecurity. Female-led households reported higher food insecurity (28.7%) than male-led households (23.1%).

With extensive floodplains, Cambodia is highly exposed to floods, scoring 9.5 out of 10 in the 2023 global risk index for humanitarian crises and disasters. Climate change is expected to intensify flooding and drought, and worsen saline intrusion. These events put at risk Cambodia’s aspiration to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to pursuing green growth through its National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013–2030 and its Long-Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality by 2050. Given the importance of agriculture to Cambodian food security and its potential for commercialisation, investment in climate-smart agriculture and natural capital management, development partners are asking for these to be prioritised by government.

Country priorities

ACIAR and the Royal Government of Cambodia (represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) have an ongoing 10-year agreement on the strategic priorities for research collaboration. From 2019 to 2029, research collaborations will focus on 3 domains to support the development of Cambodian agriculture:

  • sustainable intensification and diversification of agriculture, focusing on non-rice crops in traditional crop-rice systems and alternative cropping systems
  • sustainable intensification of market-oriented smallholder livestock production systems
  • sustainable intensification of freshwater aquaculture production systems for nutrition-rich species.

Research priorities over this time will also take into consideration cross-cutting themes that address challenges across the agriculture sector. These are:

  • gender equity, women’s empowerment and nutrition – these are particularly important in the context of increasing labour migration that impacts women and children in rural Cambodia, and high rates of stunting and poor nutrition among women and children
  • climate variability mitigation and adaptation to climate change, taking into consideration climate variability and enabling climate-resilient farming systems
  • food safety and standards.

2023–24 research program

The research program addresses our high-level objectives, as outlined in the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, as well as specific issues and opportunities identified by ACIAR and our partner organisations.

The following table lists ACIAR-supported projects active in Cambodia during 2023–24.

Current and proposed projects in Cambodia, 2023–24

ProgramProject title & codeCountry
 Establishing sustainable solutions to cassava diseases in mainland South-East Asia AGB/2018/172Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
Food loss in the Pangasius catfish value chain of the Mekong River Basin CS/2020/209Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
 Weed management techniques for mechanised and broadcast lowland crop production systems in Cambodia and Laos CROP/2019/145Cambodia, Laos
Disease-resilient and sustainable cassava production systems in the Mekong region CROP/2022/110Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
 Fishtech: integrating technical fisheries solutions into river development programs across South-East Asia FIS/2018/153Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos
 Building an effective forest health and biosecurity network in South-East Asia FST/2020/123Cambodia, Laos
 Safe, fresh, year-round vegetables in Cambodia and Laos through research and development support of smallholder productivity and engagement in collaborative supply chains HORT/2021/143Cambodia, Laos
Livestock Systems
 Asian chicken genetic gains: a platform for exploring, testing, delivering and improving chickens for enhanced livelihood outcomes in South-East Asia LS/2019/142Cambodia, Vietnam
Rapid transformation of the Lao beef sector: biosecurity, trade and smallholders LS/2021/128Cambodia, Laos
Social Systems
 Uptake of agricultural technologies amongst farmers in Battambang and Pailin provinces, Cambodia ASEM/2013/003Cambodia
Next generation agricultural extension: social relations for practice change SSS/2019/138Cambodia
Building the evidence base on the impacts of mobile financial services for women and men in farming households in Laos and Cambodia SSS/2020/160Cambodia, Laos
The role of agricultural and forest landscapes on human and environmental health in Cambodia SSS/2022/164Cambodia
Soil & Land Management
 Management practices for profitable crop livestock systems for Cambodia and Laos SMCN/2012/075Cambodia, Laos
Land suitability assessment and site-specific soil management for Cambodian uplands SMCN/2016/237Cambodia
Assessment of the adoption and adaptation of conservation agriculture and direct seeded rice in South and South-East Asia SLAM/2022/172Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Philippines, Vietnam
Cambodian soil information system supporting sustainable upland agricultural development SLAM/2022/103Cambodia
 Water for fish and irrigation in the Mekong WAC/2021/135Cambodia, Laos
Transformative futures for water security: South-East Asia roadmap WAC/2023/176Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand


Regional Manager, East and South-East Asia

Vacant at the time of publication

Research Program Managers

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More information about our projects is available on the ACIAR website. Search for the project title or project code.


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