Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rubber gives economy bounce



Rubber gives economy bounce

Rubber gives economy bounce

The way forward described by the agricultural experts in your article of June 18

("Agriculture: Cambodia's next frontier") hardly represents a new "frontier"

for Cambodia.

The products they name that are destined to drive growth are not new agricultural

export crops for Cambodia. Before the war, maize, for instance, was always the third

major export earner and Cambodia had a very healthy market in live beef and buffalo

exports, particularly to Hong Kong.

The glaring omission from their accounts is rubber.

Apart from rice, rubber has been Cambodia's most important and reliable export item

since independence, worth more in foreign exchange earnings than all the maize, soya,

fish, timber and beef exports put together.

When bombs were raining on the countryside in 1973, Cambodia was still exporting

rubber. Democratic Kampuchea exported rubber.

Among all the world's producers of natural rubber, Cambodia is said to produce the

best quality with the highest yield. And this is done without the assistance of foreign

experts or, as far as we know, foreign direct investment.

In fact, it is not only the agricultural experts who seem to know little about the

current status of rubber production.

The general public outside of Kampong Cham province seem to be unaware of the wealth

generated by plantations on over 50,000 hectares of the country's richest arable

soil.

They know even less about who owns and manages these plantations.

They know a little about working conditions because rubber plantations always rate

a mention when child labour is an issue. But what of land tenure for the hundreds

of families who tap the trees? What are their rights in relation to the privatization

process already underway at Chup, the country's largest and perhaps finest plantation

and which will be extended to all seven state plantations?

What does this privatisation, conditional on a loan from the World Bank in the early

1990s, mean? Is there to be a public bidding process? Who is monitoring this process?

If the foreign aid banks and major donors genuinely want Cambodia to develop a strong

and independent base for agricultural exports, they will guarantee the general public

both transparency and accountability for processes which they initiate.

Margaret Slocomb - Phnom Penh

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting