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Agriculture issues ‘unresolved’

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Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sokhon presides over a forum at the Phnom Penh Hotel in January 2018. via Facebook

Agriculture issues ‘unresolved’

At the capital’s Peace Palace on Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sokhon led a delegation at a meeting with the Supreme Consultation Forum to discuss all issues under the ministry’s remit.

Following the meeting, some council members expressed dismay that several of their requests were rejected by the minister.

Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros said on Monday that he raised seven requests with Sokhon in order to find solutions for farmers’ issues.

Sros expressed disappointment that Sokhon said some of his points could not be put into practice by the ministry. Sros claimed the ministry is making little effort to find solutions for farmers.

“It is a shame that the ministry seems not to make an effort to find solutions. Instead, it brings up reasons to reject what we have requested. That leads to barriers in developing the economy for [the benefit of] farmers,” he said.

Sros said four of his seven requests were rejected by Sokhon – having extra money to tackle low-price agricultural products, announcing the price of agriculture products before farming, finding more markets for domestic products, and reducing foreign imports.

The three others were accepted, he said, and the minister said they will now be acted upon. The approved requests were lowering the price of farming materials, building more irrigation systems, and preventing middlemen from decreasing prices.

“[Sokhon] said his ministry doesn’t have the ability to [put the four rejected requests into] practice, because all funding comes from the Ministry of Economy and Finance,” Sros said.

Beehive Social Democratic Party president Mam Sonando said the issue he raised, and insisted on, in the meeting with Sokhon was a desire to crack down on corruption around illegal fishing which some ministry officials are still ignoring. He also described his frustration at the answers he received from the ministry.

Sonando added that from what he has observed from visiting people in the field, they always strongly support firm action against illegal fishing – and almost no illegal fisherman was poor.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Sokhon said he briefed the meeting about each of the ministry’s sub-sectors, including all types of forestry, fisheries, livestock and animal health and the rubber sector, focusing on the progress of agricultural development policy and planning for the challenges the ministry faces.

The post continued: “The minister clarified the mechanism of problem resolution based on the principles of technical policy and, in particular, the roles and duties of the ministry in a comprehensive, in-depth and effective manner, and in accordance with political trends and the economic growth of the nation.”

Ministry spokesman Srey Vuthy said some of the points raised by the Supreme Consultation Forum members related to ministry duties, but others, such as the request to build irrigation systems and to create agricultural areas for tourism, are not under the ministry’s purview.

“It is not the ministry’s duty to provide water, but the ministry will push the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to cooperate on the issue,” he said.

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