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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No easy answers to fire

No easy answers to fire

S LASH-and-burn agriculture remains a problem in provinces such as Koh Kong - and

at least some farmers think it is good for the land.

Mut Mean, a farmer

in Koh Kong's Dong Tong district, told the Post that burning away trees and

scrub helped farm crops and new plants to grow because ash was good for soil.

Mean, through not a believer in environmental problems such as erosion, said: "I

don't know what the advantages or disadvantages [of slash-and-burn] are, but we

have been doing it for generations."

This dry season, like any other, has

seen villagers clearing land to live and produce crops on in many remote areas

of the province. Traditionally, villagers have to move on to live in another

area - causing more slash-and-burn - if one of their number dies.

In

provinces further north, particularly around the Tonle Sap Lake, villages are

also reported to start fires to flush out animals such as snakes, turtles and

rabbits to hunt.

Koh Kong's Deputy Governor Van Kirirot, believes the

government will have a hard time persuading villagers to stop burning

trees.

"I think the tribes want to live and do whatever they want. We

can't force them to do anything if they don't want to."

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