Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Small-scale farmers will suffer under draft agricultural law: advocates



Small-scale farmers will suffer under draft agricultural law: advocates

Farmers and agricultural NGO representatives speak on the controversial agricultural law at a workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Farmers and agricultural NGO representatives speak on the controversial agricultural law at a workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Small-scale farmers will suffer under draft agricultural law: advocates

Farmers and agricultural NGOs slammed the seventh and final draft of a controversial agricultural law at a workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday, claiming that the law would benefit large corporations at the expense of small farmers if passed.

Thirty farmers who say they represent 5,000 colleagues across two dozen provinces travelled to the workshop at the Germany-Cambodia Friendship Center in Phnom Penh yesterday to demand the government drop its efforts to pass the law.

The law has been hotly debated since 2011, when the Ministry of Agriculture first revealed it.

As written, the draft law would empower the ministry to direct the types and numbers of crops farmers can grow, impose heavy fines on farmers for damaging the environment and seize agricultural land that they deem is being underused.

Nhil Pheap, a representative of a farmer network in Takeo province, said the law also makes it easier for the government to offer land to private companies.

“The forests, coasts and lakes, which are for people . . . [the government] will declare as barren land and offer it to companies,” Pheap said.

Yos Sophoan, a representative of farmers in Svay Rieng province, said the law puts huge financial and time burdens on small-scale farmers who will be required to register their land and farming techniques with the ministry.

“They would need to spend a lot of time for the registration, and they do not have much knowledge about that,” Sophoan said.

Farmers said their greatest concern is the heavy fines – $2,500 to $5,000 for individuals or entities who damage the land or water while clearing the land or using pesticides, or for using falsified documents to obtain land.

Hean Vanhorn, general director of the General Agriculture Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, denied that the law would negatively affect farmers and said that some NGOs had turned people against the ministry.

“No one created the law to hurt the people,” Vanhorn said. “They only made the law to boost the people’s standard of living, but some NGOs often cause conflict again and again.”

According to Vanhorn, the ministry hoped to pass the law by the end of the year but may delay until next year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen says Kingdom not a 'satellite country'

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent diplomatic notes to various embassies demonstrating its stance and clarifying allegations that the Kingdom is a satellite country of China which will allow it exclusive access to the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. The response

  • Vast Prince Manor fun park opens to much fanfare in Kandal

    Chinese-owned Prince Culture and Development Co Ltd officially launched the $85 million Prince Manor entertainment centre in Kandal province on Wednesday. Prince Manor is located along National Road 1, 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is the first major theme park project in Cambodia and

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial