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Farmers worry about effect of pesticide ban

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A farmer sprays his crop in Kandal province. Pha Lina

Farmers worry about effect of pesticide ban

The agriculture industry is waiting to see the potential impacts after the import and trade of pesticides were put on hold in the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Agriculture issued an announcement on Friday banning the sale and use of the chemicals for an undetermined period, but did not name any specific chemical component as being of particular concern.

The ban comes on the back of a poisoning incident in Kratie province, which left at least 14 dead and around 300 others in hospital. Water samples from the affected area were found to contain pesticides, the Ministry of Health said.

There are 100 companies that sell or produce fertiliser and agrochemical products registered in the Kingdom, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Morn Sinon, technical supervisor at Agrotech Vita Co Ltd, said the Ministry of Agriculture should exempt weaker pesticides from the ban as a blanket prohibition would heavily impact farmers.

“There are many different chemicals that go into different pesticides. The ministry should allow the sale and trade of less dangerous pesticides to continue farming,” Sinon said. “It also impacts us as we can no longer sell our products.”

“There are many types of pesticides, and the ministry should classify them so farmers can continue to tend to their land.

“Agrochemicals cause less impact if they are used properly and the instructions are followed,” he added.

Chhiv Ngy, the director of the Cashew Nut Association in Kampong Thom, said he was concerned over the ban’s impact on large-scale farming, as pesticides are essential for cashew farmers.

“Pesticides are important for us. Without them, we don’t have a big enough work force to clear our grass from pests and our plants will not grow well,” he said. “How can we manage our farms without them?”

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sokhon said the ministry is cooperating with experts and officials to investigate the Kratie case and locate the source of the mass poisoning. In the meantime, to protect the public, the ban on pesticides was put in place.

“We need to stop the use of pesticides during the investigation period,” Sokhon said. “If anyone violates the ban, they will be fined and punished according to the Law on Agriculture.”

The minister wouldn’t give further details on the punishments for those found flouting the ban.

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