Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In Koh Kong, a harvest denied



In Koh Kong, a harvest denied

Villagers in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district squeeze through a barbed-wire fence they say is preventing them from reaching their crops. Licadho
Villagers in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district squeeze through a barbed-wire fence they say is preventing them from reaching their crops. Licadho

In Koh Kong, a harvest denied

Tonnes of fruit has been left to rot in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district due to a road block erected by two Thai sugar producers nearly two weeks ago that has prevented farmers from reaching their crops.

Thirty-two families in Chi Khor Leu commune’s Trapaing Kandaol village are demanding that Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation – both previously owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat, now subsidiaries of Thai-owned Khon Kaen Sugar Industry – take down the road block.

Hour In, provincial monitor for rights group Licadho, who visited the site of the road block on Saturday, said yesterday that farmers have been prevented from tending to their crops for more than two years now.

“It is an ancient road, but the companies have blocked it and not allowed the people to fertilise their durian and rambutan farms since June 26,” In said, adding that villagers “can’t access their rambutan, so the fruit is rotten and destroyed”.

Sak Phon, who belongs to one of the 32 aggrieved families, said in a good season he can harvest 14 to 16 tonnes of fruit and sell it on for 4,500 riel (roughly $1.10) a kilogram. However this harvest season has been cut short by the road block, he said.

“About 10 tonnes of my rambutan fruit have not been harvested yet. Now they are ripe and fall [from the plant]. Besides that, many of the durian trees have died because we have not fertilised them,” Phon said, adding that he was not alone in losing produce and had not yet had a chance to plant during the rainy season.

The affected community has filed a letter with the commune authorities seeking intervention on their behalf.

Commune chief Chhay Vuth said that he met with the companies yesterday morning. He subsequently sent a letter to them asking that the road block be lifted and was told the companies would reply within a week.

But Peng An, an administrative assistant at the company, yesterday said he was unaware of any such letter.

“I am not sure of the reason for closing the road. I will meet with the Thai investor [and ask],” An said. Senior company representatives were unreachable for comment.

Licadho’s In said the companies had erected the road block in order to prevent grazing cattle from reaching their sugar cane crop.

The sugar plantations in question have previously been referred to by Equitable Cambodia’s Eang Vuthy as “one of [Cambodia’s] oldest land disputes”, having been granted as a 2,239-hectare economic land concession to Senator Yong Phat in 2006.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • ‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

    A group of former and current Cambodian diplomats on Tuesday fired back at retired Singaporean diplomat Bihalari Kausikan after he proposed that ASEAN dismiss Cambodia and Laos from the bloc. In an open letter, the Cambodian diplomats said Kausikan’s remarks were made from a

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Woman seeks answers after arrest of American partner

    Filipina Lalaine de Guzman, 48, is demanding answers for the detention of her American partner by Cambodian immigration officers after he was arrested at their home almost 90 days ago. She said without an arrest warrant or proffering any criminal charges, Stephen Sidney Greatsinger, 56, is being detained