Rural development and employment opportunities in Cambodia: How can a national employment policy contribute towards realization of decent work in rural areas?

This paper examines the on-going policy efforts to enhance productivity, employment opportunities, and incomes from work in the rural areas. At the same time, it argues that development of more productive sectors in manufacturing and services would be constrained, without addressing the seasonal shortage of labour in agriculture. The paper also argues that rural households consider subsistence farming as a safety net and a lifeline in the event of economic downturns.

The paper describes the challenges of rural development and prospects for economic development of non-agricultural sectors are magnified by seasonally tight labour supply in the agricultural sector. At the same time, the paucity or lack of social safety nets in the non-agricultural sectors tie rural households to their land. Farming represents safety and security vis-àvis the uncertain income prospects in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. To enhance the livelihoods and prospects of both agricultural and non-agricultural employment, this paper recommends the following areas for consideration as part of the national employment policy: (1) increase stability and incomes from subsistence farming by raising agricultural productivity; (2) promote and strengthen linkages between agriculture and agro-industry; and (3) promote decent living wages and social protection for workers in the modern sector.