Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellency Lee Han Gon, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am most pleased and honoured to participate with all of you, the Civil Servants, our Compatriots and the Distinguished Guests, especially Your Excellency Mr. Lee Han Gon, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, our Highly-respected Representative from the donor side, in the launching, – the rehabilitation project of Tamork Water Storage in Ponea Leu District, Kandal Province, financed by the grand aid of the Government of the Republic of Korea.
On behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia and myself personally, I would to take this opportunity to cordially thank the Government and People of the Republic of Korea for having provided many generous helps to Cambodia. Those include not only the knowledge and technical assistance, but also the financial and material assistance for the cause of rehabilitation and development of Cambodia, in general, and to rehabilitate this important Tamork Water Storage, in particularly.
Thus, I am happy and proud to notice that the relationship and cooperation between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea have been steadily strengthened and expanded during the past several years. This has contributed to the tightening of the friendship and solidarity between our two nations, which has positively benefited not only development of Cambodia, but also contributed to our joint efforts toward peace, progress and prosperity in the Southeast Asia as well as in the broader East Asia.
The Cambodian economy remains largely agrarian. Agriculture accounts for almost 40% of GDP, while about 84% of Cambodian population are living in the rural areas and most of them are employed in the agriculture. About 75% of the poor are the families whose heads are farmers. Thus the development of the agriculture is indeed a key strategy for expanding and supporting the bases for long term economic growth and poverty reduction among our people. Within framework of this strategy, farmers shall play an important role as contributor and beneficiary in promoting economic growth.
In agriculture, I notice two main issues that we need to address effectively, in order to meet the development need as well as the need for having an open economy and trade, including the diversification and increase in the productivity of agriculture. Diversification means enhancing the production of other additional crops other than rice, or the diversification of additional agricultural crops, which bear more added value than rice or the deepening of other production-related activities in different sub-sectors of the agriculture, such as livestock which have high value for promoting Cambodian competitiveness. This means that we need to identify and rely our strategy on the niches of our agricultural production rather than to rely on the “economy of scale” or the market share, in order to compete with other more advanced countries in the agriculture sector. Thus, the RGC has set objective to develop a system, ensuring smooth integration of farmers with the agricultural enterprises and agro-industries. For increased productivity in agriculture, which is a determining factor for our competitiveness, the RGC will further intervene in the following five cross cutting areas:
- Physical infrastructure, especially the “water policy” through dams and irrigation system, such as this project that we are launching today;
- Technical and technological support for agriculture through the provision of technical assistance to local farmers;
- Effective and appropriate management of lands;
- Adequate financing for farmers and agro-businesses through micro-finance institutions and the SME-supporting financial institutions.
- Market information and marketing skills to ensure market access and better response to the needs for exports, including the quality and hygiene standards.
I am convinced that the promotion of this strategy will enable Cambodia, which is surrounded by large agro-product and food markets in the region, to transform its subsistent agriculture into a modern agriculture sector which ready for exporting. Thus, it will become another important pillar of the economy in stimulating the economic growth and reducing the poverty among people.
In this sense, as I have mentioned earlier that ensuring effective supply of water and road infrastructure in rural areas is the top priority of the Royal Government. Thus, the rehabilitation of this Tamork Water Storage is of great importance for the development of the northern area of Phnom Penh, and it also presents another contribution to achieving water policy goals of the Royal Government; – expanding the irrigated coverage of lands from 20% to 24% of the total rice fields in Cambodia within the next five years. As you all aware, the agriculture in Cambodia remains largely undeveloped and relies on nature. Thus, we are still suffering whether there is water or no water, – as floods and droughts are badly affecting our crops. This clearly states that the key solution lays in the agricultural sector of Cambodia, in particular the better management of water resource.
Though Tamork Water Storage already has the capacity to supply waters covering over 1,900 hectares of rice fields, better water management would allow the use of waters for other purposes to serve the local livelihoods, as H.E. Minister Lim Kean Hor stated earlier.
Tamork Water Storage is an irrigation infrastructure, which was built during the State of Cambodia, and it has served agriculture production and has been used as the supplied water by people living around the basin for their daily livelihoods. In the past years, due to the lack of maintenance resulted from our national budget shortage and due to repetitious floods for many years; the storage has been damaged dramatically. Realizing clearly the importance of this water source, the RGC proposed to the government of the Republic of Korea to provide support for the rehabilitation of the water storage and received a generous grant in the amount of USD1,369,000, for the study and the reparation of the basin.
Dear my compatriots, may I take this occasion to inform you that all aid funds are tied to counterpart funds, which come from the government’s coffer. Moreover, any country or people who are the recipients of grants are obliged to settle all concerned issues and problems affecting the projects, in order to facilitate operations of the construction effectively. For example, if there are only few families come up with conflicts in land dispute, it would create obstruction to the entire construction site’s operation. For this reason, may I appeal to all the families, living in the surrounding area of the construction site, for your patience and understanding. Thus, please uphold the common interests of our community over our own ones, by helping provide support and necessary facilitations to enable smooth operation and finally the successful completion of the project as planned.
This achievement belongs to us all, – those who are living in the surrounding areas within the reach of this Tamork Water Storage would have the direct benefits from it. Therefore, in order to assure good water management, after the completion of the basin reparation, I propose to the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, with the local authority and people in the area, to jointly consider the development of a “Farmers Water Users Community” for the long-lasting benefit of water users and for the maintenance purpose of this grand work.
Once again, on behalf of the RGC and all the Cambodian people who receive this precious gift, may I ask Your Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to convey our deep and most sincere thanks to the Government and People of Korea. We highly appreciate our friendship and cooperation, and in particular all kinds of the generous support, provided by the Republic of Korea to Cambodian people for the development of our country. Finally, may I wish you all, Your Venerable Buddhist Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Distinguished Guests and our Compatriots, the five gems of Buddhist Blessings!