Agriculture and Rural Development Sector in Cambodia

Evaluation Document | 30 September 2009
This sector assistance program evaluation provides a sector-level independent assessment of ADB's assistance to the agriculture and rural development sector in Cambodia from 1995-2008.

Cambodia has made impressive economic progress in recent years, with growth averaging 10% annually during 2004-2008. But because its natural resources, hydropower potential, and prospects for industrial growth outside garment production are limited, it has little economic option but to fall back on its strengths in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.

Agricultural resources consist primarily of about 2.8 million hectares of cultivated land, while fisheries focus on the Mekong River and Tonle Sap, one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in the world. In short, many of Cambodia's 14 million people remain rice farmers supplementing their incomes from fishing, and fishers supplementing their incomes from rice farming.

Recognizing this, ADB assistance has put considerable emphasis on agriculture and rural development, with 12 projects totaling $240.7 million during 1995-2008. This study assesses ADB's assistance to the sector, finding it successful overall.

Among the key findings, the study noted that ADB projects contributed significantly to the establishment of a sound legal and institutional basis for operations in the sector; improved rural access; substantially increased crop yields and production; improved rural incomes; and significantly lowered rural poverty. To a large extent, according to the study, these achievements were based on ADB's correct initial analysis of need.

The study recommends that ADB build on past success by seeking ways to upscale or apply designs and implementation arrangements from successful projects to other parts of the country, and to determine how past investments can be upgraded and made more sustainable.