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Farmers air their agriculture concerns

A lack of irrigation, rising costs of production and finding new markets to sell their produce are problems that plague Cambodian farmers, attendees at the annual National Farmers Forum were told yesterday.

Organised by the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development at the Council of Ministers in partnership with the NGO Forum on Cambodia, donors and the private sector, the two-day conference provides a platform for farmers to discuss their concerns.

Has San, a farmers representative from Battambang province, called on the government to intervene to help stabilise prices, which he said fluctuate from day to day.

“We do not feel secure when the price of our paddy rice is up to traders’ decision,” he said. “We cannot keep up with the rising price to import fertiliser and pesticide if the situation is not improved.”

Long Yen, a rice farmer from Kratie province, said 60 per cent of his harvest had been destroyed by both drought and flood this year. Yen appealed to the government for better irrigation systems in his province. “We have the water in the canal next to our rice field, but we do not have the means to bring the water into our rice field,” he said.

Sudden shocks due to climate change and natural disasters can cause farmers and their families to dip below the poverty line, Tek Vannara, from NGO Forum on Cambodia said.

“The main challenges farmers face are accessing the market, getting an effective price for their products, farming techniques, infrastructure, irrigation systems, access to funding and rights to use the land for farming,” he said.

Keo Sovathpheap, an official from the Ministry of Water and Metrology, said the government was aware of the lack of irrigation, but limited funding meant that it would take time to resolve.

“What we want is much more than what we have,” he said.

When it comes to price fluctuations, Kim Meassok Seiha, deputy director of CamControl Department, said a lack of traders from different markets meant little competition on price.

“At the moment, we are facing a bottleneck situation for our agriculture products. We can either sell only to Thailand or Vietnam. But the minister of Ministry of Commerce is working to expand the market,” he said.



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