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Look to neighbours, says institute

WASHINGTON DC-based Institute of International Food Policy Research urged Cambodia to catch-up with Thai and Vietnamese experience to increase rice production and ensure food security yesterday.

Bingxin Yu, a researcher for Washington DC Institute of International Food Policy, said in the round table meeting on agriculture and food security in Cambodia that the Kingdom should look to its neighbours.

“Cambodia is known [as] a country of rich water and agricultural fertilising lands, but it still has a low harvest yield comparing to Thailand and Vietnam,” she said.

“Cambodia can follow good experience from those countries in promoting development and agricultural research to strengthen quality and test types of rice,” said Bingxin Yu.

Rice yield could be slightly increased by better farming, including intensifying technology use, according to Yu’s policy and discussion document.

Based on the document, Vietnam uses 324 kilograms of chemical fertiliser per hectare and gets a rice yield of 4.89 tonnes per hectare. Thailand, which uses 133 kg, gets 2.74 tonnes per hectare.

Cambodia uses between 72 and 105kg per hectare and sees its rice output reach 2.54 tonnes per hectare.

“Cambodian farmers can gain more rice yield if they use more fertiliser,” said Yu.

But Mak Soeun, chief of Agricultural Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that the ministry does not encourage farmers to use more fertiliser on farmlands.

“Utilising fertiliser on farmland is just a minority factor in increasing rice output, not the main factor,” said Mak Soeun.

“Our stand is to urge farmers to follow proper planting technology such as natural intensification because we don’t want farmers to spend much and cause damage to environment of using chemical fertiliser,” he said.

Theng vuthy, a coordinator for the Poor Agricultural Program and Rural Development of Institute of Training and Research for Cambodian Development, said that increased rice output was crucial for Cambodia.

He recommended the governemnt boost its water resource budget.

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