Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon has instructed officials to strengthen the controls on the import of synthetic chemicals for the agricultural sector to help combat drug production, trafficking and use in Cambodia.

Sakhon gave the instruction during a meeting to discuss participation in the anti-drug campaign within the ministry’s jurisdiction on February 28.

He instructed all units to disseminate information on the risks of production, trafficking and drug use to community agriculture officials, forestry and aquaculture communities, students

and companies that have been doing business related to the agricultural sector, especially those that import raw materials, fertilisers and pesticides or medicines and feed additives.

“Constantly monitor all imports and exports for all chemicals, pesticides and ingredients used by companies. Legal action must be taken strictly and consistently and vigilance must be increased,” he said.

In the first five months of 2021, Cambodia imported 47,409 tonnes of pesticides and 858,632 tonnes of agricultural fertiliser, according to the ministry’s press release dated August 9, 2021.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng warned on January 25 that the lack of cooperation in sharing and providing details within the framework of relevant ministries and institutions has created serious risks for the Cambodian economy and society through fraudulent imports of semi-finished synthetic chemicals that can then be combined for drug production and processing in Cambodia.

“Recently, the anti-drug police cracked down on a large drug smuggling site in Kampong Speu province and seized enough synthetic chemicals to produce more than 100 tonnes of drugs, all of which were imported with legal licenses,” he said.

At the time, Sar Kheng suggested that relevant ministries and institutions that have the right to license the import of goods from abroad, especially synthetic chemicals, cooperate closely with the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) to prevent the use of Cambodia as a drug trans-shipment point or as a place to process and produce drugs.

To address this, Sakhon decided to establish a working group to educate others on the prevention of drug trafficking within the framework of the agricultural ministry and to participate in the implementation of the government’s strategic measures in the seventh meeting for implementation from January 1 to December 31.

He also advised and urged the new working group to increase cooperation and deepen ties with the drug authorities to implement the action plan effectively.

Educational institutions such as the Royal University of Agriculture and Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture will also integrate into the curriculum information on topics related to the prevention of drug production and trafficking.