Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rubber gives economy bounce

Rubber gives economy bounce

Rubber gives economy bounce

The way forward described by the agricultural experts in your article of June 18

("Agriculture: Cambodia's next frontier") hardly represents a new "frontier"

for Cambodia.

The products they name that are destined to drive growth are not new agricultural

export crops for Cambodia. Before the war, maize, for instance, was always the third

major export earner and Cambodia had a very healthy market in live beef and buffalo

exports, particularly to Hong Kong.

The glaring omission from their accounts is rubber.

Apart from rice, rubber has been Cambodia's most important and reliable export item

since independence, worth more in foreign exchange earnings than all the maize, soya,

fish, timber and beef exports put together.

When bombs were raining on the countryside in 1973, Cambodia was still exporting

rubber. Democratic Kampuchea exported rubber.

Among all the world's producers of natural rubber, Cambodia is said to produce the

best quality with the highest yield. And this is done without the assistance of foreign

experts or, as far as we know, foreign direct investment.

In fact, it is not only the agricultural experts who seem to know little about the

current status of rubber production.

The general public outside of Kampong Cham province seem to be unaware of the wealth

generated by plantations on over 50,000 hectares of the country's richest arable

soil.

They know even less about who owns and manages these plantations.

They know a little about working conditions because rubber plantations always rate

a mention when child labour is an issue. But what of land tenure for the hundreds

of families who tap the trees? What are their rights in relation to the privatization

process already underway at Chup, the country's largest and perhaps finest plantation

and which will be extended to all seven state plantations?

What does this privatisation, conditional on a loan from the World Bank in the early

1990s, mean? Is there to be a public bidding process? Who is monitoring this process?

If the foreign aid banks and major donors genuinely want Cambodia to develop a strong

and independent base for agricultural exports, they will guarantee the general public

both transparency and accountability for processes which they initiate.

Margaret Slocomb - Phnom Penh

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all