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Agriculture chief tells youths to stay put and learn to farm better

Agriculture chief tells youths to stay put and learn to farm better

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Minister Chan Sarun says unemployed youths should improve farming skills rather than seek migrant work across neighbouring borders

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Participants at a CEDAC-sponsored conference on leadership on Monday.

YOUNG people must strive to learn and practice better farming techniques to avoid becoming migrant workers in neighbouring countries, the minister of agriculture said Monday.

"We all need to learn more skills in agriculture to improve our families' living standards. It is much better than leaving our farms and crossing the border for jobs," Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chan Sarun said at a workshop organised by the Cambodia Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (Cedac).

"Currently, the agriculture sector is stepping up to help boost GDP by around three to five percent, as the garment, construction and tourism sectors are in decline due to the global finance crisis," he told a lecture hall packed with 240 agricultural workers from 17 provinces at the National Education Institute.

He cited the example of the remittance-dependent Philippine economy and that of North Korea, where 12 percent of GDP annually comes from migrant labourers, saying this had cost them a skilled domestic workforce and social security.

"Our country has millions of hectares of agricultural land  waiting for us to develop, so we do not need to find a job outside our country. We only need to develop more agricultural skills," he said.

Unemployed youth

Yang Saing Koma, president of Cedac, said out of Cambodia's estmated population of 14 million, around 300,000 youths enter the job market each year. But only 70,000 of them find jobs.

"Government-created jobs for youths rely on Cambodia being attractive to investors, but many foreign companies demand skilled employees, meaning thousands of youths face unemployment every year," he said.

Cedac has been running agricultural training courses since 2006 that aim to encourage unemployed youths to become skilled farmers, return to their communities and spread this knowledge, Yang Saing Koma said.

Meoun Nim, 27, a participant from Kampong Cham province, told the Post he uses his knowledge to train farmers in his village.

"Now my family can get better results on their farm than before I started with Cedac," said Moeun Nim. 

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