Gov’t Plans to Send Crop Safety Agents to Border Checkpoints

The government has finalized a draft sub-decree that, if approved, would station officials at all border checkpoints to ensure that crops leaving and entering Cambodia are disease-free.

The draft measure comes as cassava farmers in Banteay Meanchey province are fighting against threats to their cassava crop from a mealybug infestation that crossed into Cambodia over the Thai border.

“We want phytosanitary officials to be included as members of the border inspection teams so that they can work to prevent to stop the spread of pests,” Hean Vanhorn, deputy director-general of the general department of agriculture, said yesterday.

Mr Vanhorn said that the measure would ensure that Cambodian agricultural exports were high-quality and free of disease, as well as making sure that produce from neighboring countries would not spread disease to Cambodia.

“We don’t want Cambodia to stockpile pests all over the place,” he said. “Otherwise it affects the production and the export of our agricultural products.”

Cambodia’s first crop sanitation agency was established in 1980 but its functions were disbanded in 2001 when the government agreed to let all produce cross the border in an effort to loosen trade restrictions.

But demand for better quality goods in the region’s export markets has generated calls to bring back higher standards.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the installation of crop sanitary agents at the country’s borders was key in preventing the spread of disease both in and out of Cambodia.

“It is only natural that insects can migrate from one place to another,” he said. “It is difficult to control.”

He added that CEDAC was also concentrating on training farmers in how to spot diseased crops and correctly apply pesticides.

Officials at the Council of Ministers said yesterday they were unsure when the draft sub-decree would be considered for approval.


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