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Minister, Vietnam envoy talk agriculture cooperation

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Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and his officials hold a meeting with Vietnamese ambassador Nguyen Huy Tang on March 3. VENG SAKHON VIA FACEBOOK

Minister, Vietnam envoy talk agriculture cooperation

The agriculture minister on March 3 announced that he had met with the Vietnamese ambassador to Cambodia for talks on agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

At the meeting earlier in the day, ambassador Nguyen Huy Tang sought Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon’s assistance in the adaptation of suitable, modern aquaculture techniques in Cambodia that support improvements in the segment, along with other initiatives to expand cooperation between the two countries in the field, the minister said in a statement.

Tang also asked the ministry to help smooth the way for procedures involving economic land concessions (ELC) such as the review and evaluation of master plans, land registration, privatisation processes, among other things, said the statement posted on Sakhon’s Facebook page.

ELCs are long-term leases that permit concessionaires to clear and use land for agricultural or agro-industrial exploitation, as defined by Sub-decree No 146 on ELCs, adopted in 2005.

Acknowledging that fish production from capture fisheries had been on a gradual downslope despite rising demand, the minister voiced support for further cooperative engagement in aquaculture.

According to data from Cambodia’s 2020 and 2021 annual fisheries reports, although marine capture fisheries inched up 1.9 per cent to 125,000 tonnes last year from 122,700 tonnes in 2020, freshwater capture fisheries and aquaculture reached just 383,050 tonnes and 348,350 tonnes in 2021, respectively, down by 7.3 per cent and 13.0 per cent from 413,200 tonnes and 400,400 tonnes a year earlier.

This slump in fisheries production has prompted the ministry and other government bodies to place a higher priority on both marine and freshwater aquaculture development, the minister said.

This entails added support and motivation for aquaculturists and capacity building of fish raising techniques, including providing the know-how to select the best performing specimens and feed, and maintain optimal control of the environmental conditions necessary to ensure ample domestic supply of quality products that are safe for consumption, he said.

With regard to ELCs, Sakhon praised the efforts and the “high sense of responsibility” among concessionaires, which he noted have used their contracts to deliver “remarkable yields” of cash crops for export, such as rubber, acacia, eucalyptus, cashew nut, banana and other fruits.

Nevertheless, the minister did point out that a small minority of companies have left their ELCs inactive, failing to implement action plans as outlined in the contracts signed with the ministry, or even to properly register the land.

Sakhon reiterated a call for these concessionaires to carry out their master plans, as approved by the ministry, along with annual action plans, and fully cooperate with the secretariat for ELCs. The ministry will lend a hand as needed to make their investments a success, he stressed.

He also ordered businesses to their part to prevent the unauthorised occupation of any state land designated for the ELC.

Sakhon and Tang reiterated their commitment to strengthening and expanding cooperation in agriculture for the sake of greater economic growth for both countries, according to the statement.

The minister thanked the Vietnamese delegation for Vietnam’s help and cooperation on the export of Cambodian products to the neighbouring country despite the many disruptions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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