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

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman