The agriculture minister has asked the outgoing British ambassador to look into options to provide additional support on a range of projects linked to agricultural sector development that seek to encourage restoration of the natural landscape.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on April 28 met UK ambassador to Cambodia Tina Redshaw at the agriculture ministry, the ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

During the meeting, a number of new projects were introduced, aimed at “learning more about the challenges facing the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector and those concerning agricultural land use” during the Covid-19 pandemic, to come up with better solutions for the future, the statement said.

A Biodiverse Landscapes Fund (BLF) delegation led by Timsin Ballard also introduced their organisation to the minister, affirming its commitment to poverty reduction, biodiversity rehabilitation, and minimising the impact of climate change on six of the world’s most environmentally critical landscapes.

The UK public sector information website says that a set of BLF-funded projects to support these six landscapes is expected to kick off “by the end of summer 2022”. The site lists these six as the Lower Mekong, which covers Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area; Mesoamerica; the Congo Basin, the Andes Amazon; and Madagascar.

The delegation said that each landscape would receive from £10-16 million ($12.5-20) over the course of seven years, the statement said without providing a more precise sum to be allotted to the Lower Mekong landscape.

The minister welcomed the BLF-backed undertakings, expressing willingness to provide support and work with all involved to ensure their success.

Sakhon took the occasion to sing the praises of Cambodia’s programmes and national policies, which he said protect natural resources and promote the reforestation of flooded forests and other areas, industrial tree planting, and additional initiatives that ensure that landscapes are green.

He said the ministry is also mulling steps to reduce land degradation as well as the use of harmful chemical substances and fertilisers that do not meet approved technical standards, which he stressed would impact the quality of soils, water, plants, and farming environments.

He added that the ministry has also raised awareness among farmers and private businesses concerning suitable agricultural techniques, production diversification, adaptation to climate change, sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity restoration, the statement said.