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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Labour shortage vexes farmers in Pailin province

Labour shortage vexes farmers in Pailin province

Dim Channa, an 18-year-old worker, on a corn plantation in Pailin province
Dim Channa, an 18-year-old worker, on a corn plantation in Pailin province. Heng Chivoan

Farmers in Pailin province have complained about a shortage of workers during this year’s corn and cassava harvesting season.

Meas Loeun, team leader of Momean Moy community’s 38 teams in Pailin, said the shortage of workers to help harvest corn and cassava is a major challenge for plantation owners because many workers have migrated to Thailand.

“The price of corn and cassava is suitable in the market, but the fact is that there is a shortage of workers,” he said. “We’re really lacking workers because most of them went to Thailand,” he added.

According to Meas Loeun, a worker on corn and cassava plantations can earn 25,000 to 30,000 ($6.25 to $7.50) riel a day, but workers prefer to work in Thailand where pay is higher, rather than in Cambodia where they would be safer.

The harvesting season, which started in October, began slowly this year with 20 to 30 per cent of crops harvested so far.

“Right now, owners have tried to harvest their corn because it is like rice, it will re-grow if it falls on the ground during the rain,” said Meas Loeun.

“Some farmers have lost some income in order to harvest their corn at all and some farmers have received loans from banks to hire workers, but they’re demanding a wage increase,” he added.

Meas Loeun said that the community had looked for workers from other provinces but found it difficult to attract them because workers nationwide have a preference for work in Thailand.

“We went to Kampong Chham province, but workers there have also gone to Thailand,” he said.

Pailin Deputy Governor Koet Sothea said the migration of workers to Thailand is generally illegal.

Another reason for the shortage, according to Koet Sothea, is the number of crops being harvested at the same time, increasing demand on an already small labour force.

“Actually, the major shortage of workers for the corn harvest is because this season, farmers are also harvesting cassava and rice at the same time,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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