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Pesticide use targeted

More than 500 people gathered in Kratie province yesterday to demand government action in eliminating the use of illegal toxic pesticides.

Organised by NGO Forum and local authorities, among others, the “No Pesticides Day” event took aim at the government’s lax enforcement of pesticide restrictions.

Tek Vannara, executive director of NGO Forum, told attendees the continued use of the banned chemicals ruined the environment, damaged people’s health and made products unsustainable.

“Cambodia ranks first among 13 countries in the region for the highest pesticide residue on vegetables,” he said, adding that leafy produce from Kandal province was considered particularly bad.

Khan Chamnan, Kratie’s deputy provincial governor, conceded the government’s management of banned pesticides had fallen short of stopping rogue businesses.

According to the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, more than 750 illegal pesticides were sold in 2009 in Cambodia. Only 175 were permitted for use.

Another report by the UN World Food Programme showed Cambodia’s pesticide imports rose dramatically from $900,000 in 2001 to $629 million in 2010.

“Eliminating pesticides is a matter of enforcement,” said Makarady Keam, Health and Environment Program director at CEDAC.

“Many farmers don’t know these chemicals are banned because they’re still available at the market.”

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