Mekong Nations Look Toward Flood Recovery

Cambodia has suffered more than $63 million in lost crops and livestock since this year’s flooding began, agricultural ministers from the Asean nations learned at their 22nd annual meeting at the Hotel Inter-Continental last week.

The gathering, held Thursday and Friday, was the first time Cam­bodia has hosted a ministerial-level meeting for Asean.

Agricultural officials told the delegates that as of Oct 10, Cambodia’s losses were:

•19 percent of the rice crop, worth $55,153,538.

•19 percent of the corn crop, worth $3,293,000.

•7.6 percent of other crops, worth $5,150,000.

•500 cattle and 1,000 pigs killed, worth $128,210.

Prime Minister Hun Sen told the ministers the flooding has wreaked “considerable havoc in poor, downstream countries of the Mekong such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.”

He said cooperation will speed recovery of victims and that the region’s strong agricultural tradition is “capable of mitigating the impacts of this tragic, frontal attack.”

Cambodian agricultural officials said that while the government and national and international charities are supplying aid to flood victims, more help will be needed as floodwaters recede to keep people from going hungry.

The officials estimate about 70,000 hectares of damaged rainy season rice can be salvaged with the help of 4,200 tons of rice seed, 7,000 tons of chemical fertilizer and 3,500 tons of urea.

For next year’s dry season rice crop, another 4,500 tons of seed, 7,500 tons of chemical fertilizer and 3,750 tons of urea are needed, they said.

Next year’s rainy season crop will need 2,000 more tons of seed. The officials also said seed would be needed for vegetables, as well as vaccines for livestock.

Hun Sen told the ministers Asean’s long-term goals should include a stable food supply and “international competitiveness of food, agricultural and forest products.”

To do so, he said, member na­tions should be prepared to improve their products, while developed nations should re­move “barriers and obstacles” that block developing nations’ access to markets.

The three Asian powers could be valuable allies in negotiating imports and exports with West­ern nations, said Agriculture Min­ister Chhea Song, noting Cam­bodia will host the first meeting of Asean agriculture ministers with officials from China, South Korea and Japan next April.

said he and his counterparts in Asean planned to write letters to developed nations, telling them that they set too many conditions for their nations to export agricultural products.

“Too many conditions and barriers cause the products to be­come cheaper, and that makes the farmer stop producing the products,” he saidl.








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