THE GOVERNMENT provided 124,000 hectares of land to 19 companies in concessions last year, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The concessions, spread across eight provinces, were for the growth of eight agro-industrial products, including rubber, Cambodia’s second-most lucrative crop after rice.
“We hope that the companies will be able to grow more rubber in the coming years,” said Chay Sokun, deputy director of the Planning Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sunday.
The amount of rubber grown in Cambodia increased by 20 percent in 2009, filling 83,000 hectares, according to the report, released April 6. Of those, about 22,350 came from land concessions, and the rest from private farmers.
Yim Sovann, a member of parliament for the Sam Rainsy Party, said that nearly half the land given in concessions has yet to be developed. Some companies have merely logged the land, and others have tried to enlarge their plots by encroaching on land of local villagers, he said. If work is not being done, concessions should be returned, he added.
The government gave more than 1.3 million hectares of land in concessions between 1993 and 2009, but only about 957,000 hectares remain under valid contracts. The rest of the concessions have been officially cancelled, according to the ministry.
“We have already cancelled economic concession contracts with 41 companies, and we will continue to cancel them if we find that any have failed to develop the land they received from the government,” said Chay Sokun.