Villagers in Takeo province’s Lompong commune in Bati district are complaining that nearby pig and poultry farms are emitting strong odours caused by animal waste. This, they said is leading to health problems and an increase in flies in the area.
Nget Nop, 44, a commune resident, said about 10 farms had been in business there for years but had little impact. However, lately the smell has been stronger than usual and has led to a surge of flies in the area.
He said the wind carries the stench from the farm to the villagers’ homes day and night, making it difficult to breathe and causing coughs and other illnesses.
The increase in flies that come out of the farm at meal times make it difficult to eat, he noted.
“I reported this to local authorities in the past, but they always said that it’s no problem. They said the affect is minimal and if it got worse, they’d go talk to the owners.
“Other villagers were afraid to report the problem. They are scared of the farm owners getting angry with them, so they did not dare to talk but everyone is complaining about this,” he said.
Another commune resident, Hem Reth, said he had asked officials to educate the farm owners to take measures to prevent the odour and flies so that the lives of villagers were not disrupted.
“We are not asking to ban poultry, duck or pig businesses, but we just do not want them to affect the peace of residents in the nearby areas. I call for urgent action because now there is such a strong stench and there are a lot of flies,” he stressed.
However, Lompong commune chief Chhe Soy said while poultry and pig farms existed in the commune, they did not present any serious side effects, but just a slight odour that emitted from the farms when the owners catch chickens or pigs for sale.
He said the authorities had previously introduced measures to prevent the odour from affecting villagers living nearby. Provincial officials had also given the farm owners instructions several times.
He said the owners may have had a few “technical shortcomings” of late, which resulted in the stench getting worse.
“The smell is minimal, but the flies are everywhere. However, it’s normal and officials have educated and instructed the owners.
“In the commune today, there are eight poultry farms and seven pig farms, but they are far from the villagers’ houses,” he said.
Bati district governor Phuon Chhim said no information has been shared with him regarding the issue.
However, he noted that the authorities had educated the farm owners many times. He said he plans to send officials to investigate the matter to check if what the villagers claimed is true.
“We cannot close down the farms because it could affect our food security, but we will make corrections to any areas that affect the people. If the owners do not follow our instruction, we will warn and fine them according to the law,” he said.
The director of Takeo province’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Nheb Sro also said he was unaware of the case but would send officials to look into the claims and educate the farm owners.
In the past, officials have advised farm owners to take certain measures to prevent the odour from spreading, he said.
The simplest measure is to place rice husks under the chicken coops so that it can absorb the moisture from the chicken dung. If the chicken dung is not moist, it has no smell and no flies will be attracted to it either.
“Normally, if there is a bad smell, it will produce flies. Even if we spray pesticides, they will return. It is better if we take measures to prevent the stench. If the smell is bad, there will be flies,” he said.
The farm owners could not be reached for comment.