A ministry of Industry and Handicrafts report shows the ministry plans to seize land from salt makers if it is not being used to produce the essential seasoning, citing rules that the land was allocated in the past for salt production.
In its annual report released on Tuesday, the ministry said it is working to ensure that salt flats, which were provided by the state in the late 1990s, that are unused or being used for other purposes would be taken back by the government in the salt-producing provinces of Kampot and Kep.
“This is in the case where the owners no longer use the salt farmland for a certain period of time or change the salt land for another purpose,” the report reads.
Laim Kim Leng, deputy chief for the ministry’s department for small and medium enterprises, said the procedures for implementing the initiative would involve including clauses in land sale contracts that would allow for the confiscation of incorrectly utilised salt flats.
“Salt is very important for our country. We cannot just let them do what they want,” he said.Currently, the two provinces have about 4,400 hectares of salt flats and produced 148,900 tonnes of salt last year. However the sector is plagued by low demand and falling prices.
Pov Son, who owns a 20-hectare salt farm in Kep, said that he was hoping to use the land for other purposes, like building a new home, but was unable to given the ministry’s plan.