The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Tuesday lifted its ban on the import, supply and distribution of herbicides.
The ministry had ordered the ban on May 28 after herbicides were suspected in the death of 14 people and hospitalisation of hundreds more in Kratie province earlier that month. The cause of the deaths and illnesses was eventually linked to poisoned rice wine.
The ban included having international-border checkpoints to prevent illegal imports of herbicides and directed relevant departments to continue raising awareness on the risks of herbicide usage.
“In the case of illegal imports of agricultural herbicides, the provincial agriculture departments together with the inspection department will act swiftly to crack down on the matter and ensure farmers were not impacted,” the announcement had read.
There are about 100 companies importing agricultural herbicides and fertilisers registered with the ministry.
Hean Vanhorn, director of the General Department of Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, said while herbicides were cleared of blame in the deaths of Kratie villagers, they can still be dangerous to communities if they are used improperly.
“The ban was a temporary measure while we investigated [the deaths]. We will continue to educate people on the safe use of herbicides. If people pour herbicides in the water, there will be poisoning cases again. We have already checked all the agricultural herbicides and their importers registered with the ministry,” he said.