Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to participate with all of you, our Countrymen, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in inaugurating the water storage, water gates and canals in Phum Trapang Chhuk, Khum Krang Lao, Bati District, Takeo Province. This was constructed under the assistance from Cambodia-Netherlands Bridge Organization (CNBO).
As HE Governor of Takeo has reported, the water storage of Tnal Dach, water gates and canals in Phum Trapang Chhuk, Khum Krang Lao, Bati District, Takeo Province are now 31 years old and were damaged during the Khmer Rouge’s time. With the request from local people and given the importance of this water storage, the Cambodia-Netherlands Bridge Organization has helped with repair and reconstruction works, which include: (i) repairing of dams: 2,919 meters; (ii) repairing of water regulating facilities; and (iii) restoring canals: 2,592 meters. The total cost of this project is approximately USD93,000.
The capacity of this water storage is about 140,000 m3, covering about 900 hectares of monsoon rice fields and 170-200 hectares of dry season rice fields and 10 hectares of other additional crops, helping people in 14 villages in Krang Lao Commune, Bati District. Moreover, the CNBO has helped construct and repair school buildings, bridges, canals, rural roads, wells, ponds and toilets, and support orphans and build houses for poor people in most communes of Bati District.
This is another achievement among many others that we have received with the support and contribution from international organization of our friendly countries, in particular the CNBO who has helped repair and restore the water storage, water gate and canals in Trapang Chhuk, which we will open now!
On behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia and my own self, I sincerely congratulate and express deep appreciation for the CNBO as well as the government and people of Netherlands who have provided generous financial and technical assistance and support for the cause of rehabilitation and development of Cambodia, such as this achievement that we witness today!
The Cambodian economy remains largely agrarian. Agriculture accounted for almost 40% of GDP, and about 84% of the population are the farmers living in rural areas. Thus, the development of agriculture has become the most important strategy to expand the production base, support and promote long-term growth, and finally reduce the poverty among our people. Most developed countries in the world have gone through the stages of agriculture development and economic take-off via the expansion of production base and the promotion of use of science, modern techniques and technology in agriculture, – including the expansion of irrigation systems, water storages and multiple cultivation, and the agricultural diversification and productivity improvements, agro-industry, animal raising and the promotion of agro processing, and export oriented industries and so on.
The agriculture shall be diversified beyond rice production by expanding the sector into other more value added crops rather than rice, and to other sub-sectors, such as high valued livestock and poultry, agro production and processing, market access and the promotion of exports of agricultural products that Cambodia can compete effectively. The development of agriculture can ensure food security and safety and poverty reduction for Cambodia, and the export of the surpluses. Moreover, the development of basic and physical infrastructure, including the development of industry with appropriate and smooth integration and the provision of micro-finance for farmers, agro-business and agro-industry, can help strengthen and promote economic growth in the future.
The Royal Government has given attention to promoting productivity in agriculture, which is a determinant of our competitiveness. However, the lack of irrigation systems, institutional capacity and financial resource for development, maintenance and operation of irrigation systems are the constraints to sustainable development of agriculture. To solve all above problems, the Royal Government has been taking steps of intervention in six strategic cross-cutting areas:
1. The provision of physical infrastructure (roads, water resource and power), especially the “water policy” through irrigation systems, such as this project;
2. The provision of agricultural techniques and technology by providing technical assistance to local farmers;
3. Effective management of lands;
4. Adequate financing for farmer households and agro-businesses through micro-finance systems and other financial institutions to support the SMEs;
5. Market information and dissemination of information on trade and marketing to ensure market share, responsive to market needs and meets standard, quality and hygiene requirements; and
6. Gradually build up small scale and supporting industries for processing and production of agro-products.
I believe that the enforcement of the above strategies would enable Cambodia, which is surrounded by big food markets and productions in the region, to transform its subsistent agriculture into a modern sector viable for export, – thus serving as a key pillar for economic take-off and growth, and the poverty reduction among our people.
Water is our “life and smile”, while agriculture prospers or it “sheds lights”, we have hope for future and it becomes as our “source of development”. As you all are aware, Cambodia had gone through a glorious era of Angkor, and it has been famous not only about our glorious architectural works, such as temples and religious sculptures, but also about our irrigation systems built by our ancestors during Chenla and Norkor Phnom Eras
Those systems of irrigation were designed and managed in a very scientifically- advanced ways. The utilization of water resource and scientific methods of agriculture employed, including that of trade with rest of the world and caring about people at the time, had helped the country to prosper and to be respected. There are plenty of evidences remained, such as West Baray in Seam Reap and Teak Sin canals surrounding the various temples and other ponds across the country. Thus, we shall take the history of our ancestors to our hearts and we are still convinced that agriculture is the primary sector and the catalyst for development of other sectors and that of the whole economy.
The achievement today, including water storage, Watergates and canals, will serve not only for irrigation, but also the day-to-day life and other needs of our people. This achievement is indeed ours and particularly it is the property of people living in the surrounding areas, who are the direct beneficiaries. As I mentioned, “there’s water, there is smile”. All of us, either the users, the donors and those lobbying for assistance, are smiling, especially the CNBO, myself and the government are smiling as we see our people have water for their cultivation and consumption, and hope the living of our people can be eased to some extent, that is the intention of the Royal Government. This achievement will indeed contribute greatly to the development of agriculture and of our national economy.
Once again, in behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to thank the CNBO, local authorities for your efforts and cooperation that ensure the project completed successfully. I call on all our people to cooperate and help maintain this achievement for long time.
Finally, let me end by extending to you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes. I hereby officially declare the opening of the water storage, water gates and canals in Phum Trapang Chhuk, Khum Krang Lao, Bati District, Takeo Province!