Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blame game is not a real solution to country’s rice crisis



Blame game is not a real solution to country’s rice crisis

Blame game is not a real solution to country’s rice crisis

Editor,

Within a week, the Minister of Agriculture Veng Sokhon has gone from apologising to Cambodian farmers on Facebook for not taking action in time over the fast falling prices of the rice paddy to blaming the private sector for being careless and “not smart” enough to compete regionally.

The minister has failed to look at the real picture in the agricultural sector as the falling prices of the rice paddy is one of the effects of a total systematic failure stemming from the lack of a visionary leadership. National policies that should put small-scale farmers first are needed as government’s priority and not large-scale land economic concessions that are in many cases a store front for illegal logging and timber conversion.

When over a thousand farmers in Battambang protested by blocking National Road 5 last weekend their message was not just about the falling prices of rice paddy but a legitimate protest against the years of having to survive floods and droughts with little support.

The losses and damages the farmers and the nation have had to bear are well recorded in the study conducted by a team from the National Committee for Disaster Management and the UNDP. Furthermore, independent economists have long pointed to the need for a low-interest financing for farmers that takes into consideration the harvest cycle. The prime minister has at various times called on microfinance institutions to lower interest rate as farmers are increasingly caught in the cycle of debts.

They ultimately pay for the high costs of production, seeds and transportation. Hundreds and thousands have had to leave their farms and have crossed the border to Thailand to escape their unmet payments and to seek better pay as unskilled workers.

The losses that Cambodia can never recover unless drastic measures and with a strong political will are the accelerated clearances of land for agricultural purposes, which has caused environmental disasters and victimized hundreds and thousands of farmers.

Despite many serious warnings from experts and land rights activists, the Ministry of Agriculture has shown no clear leadership in addressing the alarming situation. Tycoons and officials in the armed forces are known to be involved in the timber trade as reported in the Global Witness report.

Finally, the blame game and pointing finger at the business sector for falling to meet the farmers’ market needs is utterly discouraging. This is particularly unhelpful at a time when coordination and trust building between all stakeholders is most needed for Cambodia to expand its niche for its much valued fragrant rice and to compete in the regional market.

Mu Sochua, MP
Battambang province
Cambodia National Rescue Party

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (