Just two days after taking office, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina has begun a tour of flood-afflicted provinces to survey the damages and provide rice and other crop seed reserves to farmers.
Tina kicked off his mission on October 19 along with Kun Kim, first vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), in Kratie province.
When he took the helm of the ministry on October 17, Tina said his first priority would be to assist victims and lessen the impact of floodings, which have damaged rice and other cash crops across the country, in collaboration with all relevant institutions.
He added that the provision of the seed reserves is vital to ensure that farmers are able to re-plant in time when the floodwaters begin to recede.
The newly-minted minister will continue his mission in other provinces hit hard by floods and is expected to accompany Prime Minister during his planned visit to Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang in the coming days.
According to NCDM, on the morning of October 19, Tina and Kim delivered over 200,000kg of reserve seeds to 2,702 households from Kratie town and four districts – Chhlong, Prek Prasap, Sambor and Chitr Borei.
Kratie provincial governor Va Thorn told The Post that on October 17, his province received 76 tonnes of seeds that he had already distributed to 3,676 households affected by the floods.
“So, we have already done the work. He [Tina] promises that in a month after he distributes the reserve seeds, he will come to inspect the rice fields which should be growing by then in all provinces,” he said.
In interviews with local media outlets, Tina said the problems of markets and rice prices are ones to be solved in collaboration with other ministries and relevant institutions.
“Don’t forget that all of our people eat rice – if prices for paddy are high, it means that prices for milled rice will also be high. So, we will look over the issue again, together.
The key point is not whether prices of paddy are high or low, what is important is how much profit the producers or farmers could make, that’s one of the main issues we should look at,” he said.
“If we can cut costs for farmers and do what we can to boost their revenues, as well as improve their profit margins, that should be enough. There’s no need to discuss raising or lowering prices, since expensive paddy equates to expensive milled rice, making things difficult for consumers.
“We need to see the overall picture. There is some question as to what formula we should use that would render benefits to everyone, not just for any one part of the agriculture sector,” he added.