The SRP sent a letter to the Agriculture Ministry last week requesting the government increase its control over the trade in illicit farm pesticides, extend more agricultural training to farmers and enforce a crackdown on illegal fishing by companies.
In a March 12 letter to Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay raised the issue of uncontrolled pesticide sales in the country.
“[I]t seems there is no proper control by the authorities and these pesticides have no [labels] in Khmer to enable the farmers to understand the uses and dangers,” he wrote.
“[N]ot to take measures that are required for the sale of pesticides is a lack of responsibility [on the side] of the ministry,” the letter continued.
Mr Chhay said yesterday the letter was the result of his trip to several provinces during which farmers had suggested improvements in government agriculture policy.
“The main complaint was a lack of support from the government for our farmers,” he said, for the use of fertilizer, pesticides and planting techniques.
Recent research by the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture found that dry-season rice farmers are exposed to highly hazardous pesticides because of a lack of protective measures and equipment, while many farmers showed symptoms of toxic poisoning.
CEDAC director Yang Saing Koma said the government should do more to control the trade of illegal pesticides in order to prevent pesticides with foreign labels entering the markets.
“The pesticide issue is a serious one,” he said.
Mr Chhay also called for a further clamp down on fishing with illegal equipment such as huge nets with small mazes by large fishing companies.
“It’s not the small fishermen, but it’s the companies” who are engaged in the practice, he said.
Nao Thuok, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Fisheries Administration, said his officials had been working hard to enforce rules on illegal fishing for all fishermen, adding that 100 people had been arrested last year for illegal fishing and that officials had confiscated 6,000 electrical batteries used for fishing and 1.2 million meters of illegal fishing nets.
“[I]f we do not work well, why would the government entrust us with such a task?” he said.