Villagers living in Chup Rubber Plantation’s development project in Kompong Thom province’s Tum Ring commune complained Tuesday that they have not yet received titles for land they were forced to convert into rubber fields, while other families have been left entirely without farmland.
Chup, the largest of seven state-owned rubber plantations, was granted permission in August 2001 to develop 6,200 hectares inside a former forestry concession for a family-owned rubber plantation.
The UN in November blasted the project saying that it allowed primary forest to be illegally logged and forced families who had grown other crops on the land to become dependent rubber producers for Chup.
Thong Vibol Sokhom of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said 120 families in Tum Ring now do not have land to farm.
Speaking at a public forum Tuesday in Sandan district, organized by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, villager Vong Porn said: “I used to have five hectares before the company arrived. They grabbed the land from us and said they will give 3 hectares back but they have not.”
Villager Sao Phorn added: “A lot of people in the area are living more miserably. Many of the people do not get land.”
Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said Tuesday that the complaining villagers are new settlers and that only those who lived in Tum Ring before 2001 can receive land.
“The government wants the people to be rubber farmers,” he said. “A rubber plantation has more economic potential than the previous crops.”
Chan Sarun said that some people had received land titles and that others have been delayed due to slow processes by the Ministry of Land Management.