Farmers Want Expanded Markets For Agricultural Products

Several National Assembly lawmakers Thursday called on the government to find poor Cam­bodian farmers bigger markets for their agricultural products.

They made their appeal while grilling Minister of Agriculture Chhea Song about farming, logging and fishery policy. The lack of marketing domestic products is a key obstacle to developing the country’s agriculture, the lawmakers said.

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy and other parliamentarians complained about what they called the uncontrolled influx of fruits and vegetables into Cambo­dian markets.

“Why is it the government is allowing a great variety of agricultural products, even vegetables from Vietnam and Thailand, when these things could be produced by local farmers?” asked opposition lawmaker, Lim Sokun.

Chhea Song said the government is trying to develop markets for farmers. “We have markets in 26 countries that [want] to buy our products, but agricultural production is very poor,” he said.

He also said his ministry is studying rice marketing in a joint effort with the Commerce Ministry.

Sam Rainsy offered some praise for the cancellation of logging concession agreements. Three were cancelled recently and 11 last year.

But he said these cancellations came after most of Cambodia’s forests were cut down. Chhea Song replied that 8,000 hectares of land have been reforested since 1986.

CPP lawmaker Vann Sun Heng criticized the government policy of burning both trucks and timber when officials discover illegal logging and sawmills.

“What is wrong with timber and trucks?” he asked.

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