Prime Minister Lauds Stability, Irrigation Improvements

kien svay, Kandal province – In a ceremony to launch an irrigation improvement project along the Mekong River, Prime Minister Hun Sen credited his government with bringing political stability and called for the restoration of the country’s irrigation systems.

“The Cambodian government has social stability,” the prime minister said Wednesday. “As we know, the war was not over. It is unlike the prediction by some politicians that if Hun Sen holds power, war continues endlessly. On the contrary, since Hun Sen holds power, there is real peace for the first time.”

In an apparent reference to the Japanese government’s role in funding the irrigation project that was being launched here, Hen Sen added, “but Japan understands that if Hun Sen holds power, there is stability.”

The Japanese government agreed last June to grant more than $10 million in assistance to restore four irrigation canals in Kandal province, where sediment deposits and erosion have undercut rice production. Funds also will be used to purchase canal maintenance equipment, such as bulldozers, excavators, dump trucks and mobile pumps.

Speaking at Wednesday’s ceremony, Masaki Saito, Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia, described the Mekong River as “the sleeping dragon which lays its body and neck over the central lands of Cambodia.”

Through the project, government officials say, agriculture irrigation systems in Kien Svay that now cover 550 hectares of farmland will be expanded to 2,640 hectares. It is hoped that the new irrigation system will benefit 4,400 farming and fishing families living in the district.

“If we don’t have enough irrigation systems, we can’t meet our survival need,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said his goal is to increase irrigated land 16 to 20 percent by 2003. He added that, in the absence of drought, irrigated farmland in the country thus would expand from 370,000 to 450,000 hectares.

Experts have pointed out that the percentage of farmland throughout the country remains considerably smaller than before the Khmer Rouge period, a fact that has stirred concern given that Cambodia’s population is expected to double over the next 20 years.

The Ministry of Water Re­sources and Meteorology has reported that dozens of canals were damaged or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge regime and decades of civil conflict while many others are in serious need of maintenance.









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