– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
– Distinguished National and International Guests,
– Dear all Participants,
Today I am honored and greatly delighted to join you all Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and officials of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, representatives from line ministries, international communities and development partners participating in this opening of stock taking conference 2005-2006 of agriculture, forestry and fishery, at this time.
Taking this opportunity, let me express my sincere appreciation to the efforts of Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen who are leaders and all officials of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery for their utmost efforts in fulfilling their duties under close cooperation with line ministries, development partners, local authorities and farmers in developing all fields of agriculture sector to achieve these proud achievements for the past time.
In fact, to achieve these goals of the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy, which unambiguously defined as “enhancing economic growth”, “employment creations for the people”, “promoting social equity” and “strengthening the capacity of public sector”. The development of agriculture sector is not the only duty of agricultural officials or institutions, but it also require the participation from farmers, national and international organizations, line ministries and all levels of local authorities. It is obvious that these will promote this sector to be able to strengthen, enlarge and move forward in ensuring sustainable economic growth, creating job for the people and increasing rural income as well as ensuring the food security for the people as a whole, improving supplementary nutrients and increase the exportation of agriculture products.
In this spirit, the stock taking conference that will be held within these three days is a good platform to enable us to share new experiences in order to wisely comment in a constructing manner to seek for correct answers in strengthening the service deliveries to the farmers by all means and collecting the key comments contributing to the fast improving speed of agriculture development.
In 2005, although some regions such as central and southern parts where the majority of farmers faced with draught in the middle of the season, but, in aggregate, Royal Government has always paid attention on appealing for the participation by people from all walks of life including honorable monks in order to divert the disasters away from farmers, and also achieved fruitful results and hopes. For instance, rice harvesting in 2005 was the first year that we were able to collect approximately 6 million tons in both raining and dry seasons, 1.8 million tons higher comparing with last year. The average output is approximately 2.4 tons per hector of which 2.2 tons per hector was in rainy season and 3.9 tons per hector in dry season. According the evaluation from International Monetary Fund (IMF) it reveals that this year output will increase up to 20 percent comparing to the previous years. This success yields from our utmost efforts in seeking for the key strategy by all means in introducing the new technologies to the farmers, which is the foundation for building up the intensified and diversified agricultures. Regarding other sectors, such as fishery, rubber, forestry, veterinary products as well as other cultivations have achieved higher yields comparing to last year because of favorable rainfall and less serve natural disaster comparing to the previous years.
The most significant development that occurred in Cambodia and for Cambodian people in the past decades is the change in attitude, virtue, patient and the process of “national reconciliation” policy, which represent the philosophy and important roadmap for peace, development, prosperity and sustainability in Cambodia. Peace and stability in Cambodia has been the most significant achievement made by the Royal Government of Cambodia so far. There is no doubt that without peace and stability, there will be no development and progress. By enhancing stability, peace, national reconciliation, democracy, respecting human right and dignity as well as the efforts in the development of sustainable socio-economic and equity, Cambodia has gained the confidence and is ready to make progress toward a bright future.
In order to improve the rural living standard and livelihoods in conjunction with the National Development Strategic Plan for 2005-2006, the top priority in the acceleration of Cambodia’s poverty reduction is to focus on the urgent preparation of comprehensive strategy for the whole agricultural sectors including the irrigation system, the source of water resource and joint concentration on intensification of planting to increase the yield and rural income, the diversification of planting, the improvement of fishery management, sustainable management of forest resource via the comprehensive reform, environmental conservation and land reform implementation, especially assurance of safety in land possessions for the poor, the improvement of transportation infrastructure and the enhancement of human resource’s capability. At the same time, enhancing good governance is the live-death aspect for promoting agro-business in Cambodia. It is clear that the most important thing to do is to redirect aids strategy to the poor via innovation at the remote local level.
Moreover, I have also noticed that there were some important events occurred in 2005, in agriculture sector, especially the cultivation and plantation of various kinds of crops, although there was drought in the mid of rainy season at some provinces of the central and southern parts, but in general, last year’s weather was good, with considerable rainfall, especially it was most favorable at the end of the season. Moreover, the flood from the Mekong River and rainfall did not provoke severe damage to the rainy cultivation. The above favorable conditions in conjunction with our development progress in irrigation capacity and the prevention measures of natural disasters such as drought and flood, had enormously contributed to the achievements made.
However, the events of communicable animal diseases that occur in some particular provinces and municipalities, especially bird flue continues to post tremendous threat while it still spreading among many other countries. besides, natural resource protection such as forestry, fishery and agricultural lands are encountering with severe and remarkable anarchy such as the anarchy in encroaching, burning, and clearing the land forest by all forms, through the cut of flooded-forest, illegal transportation of woods and animals couple with draught at mid season, exportation of rice after harvesting and the decline in the price of agriculture products are always big concerns for the Royal Government.
In deed, all of these are only a brief description, but there are many other issues that we must jointly address in this conference. Besides, I find out that some of my recommendations that I’ve set last year have not been entirely implemented yet, especially the encroachment, burning, and clearing land forest that I have had stated several measures to eliminate.
On the other hand, by understanding that agriculture sector is a sector that covers the whole country and it links to many other sectors which the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery alone can not solve. Taking this opportunity, I would like to advise all line ministries to assign the person with enough capacity and power to make decision, notably all levels of municipal and provincial authorities have to completely take part for finding a suitable answer in order to implement the directed plan for the upcoming year, in which I would like to raise some visions and recommendations as below:
1– Must create a mechanism for rice buying in the form of investment for the milling communities, agriculture development associations by using the credit budget at low interest rate so that the mill houses can afford to buy rice at the market price, for stock, cleaning up and milling to sell for the local market or sell out to the international market as well. The Rural Development Bank (RDB) has a very important role in offering credit to the milling communities. The Ministry of Commerce must help to strengthen the milling communities and to provide them with the capability to modify the rice production to have high quality in responding to the market demand and the international standard and also seeking for foreign markets for Cambodian rice and other agricultural products, especially to enforce the recognition and re-appreciation on the geographical agricultural products which was protected.
2- The sustainable adjustment of agricultural system and the change of rice grew area to higher value crops plantation is the foremost solution. Another choice of the agricultural system at the highland area ought to be taken into account by including the fruit and vegetable plantation as a mean of diversification in the family farm. At the same time, we must enforce the implementation of intensification system on rice growing in conformity with the regional natural principle; which has sufficient agronomic environment.
3- Continue focusing on the research and other core activities by means of improving the agricultural production with efficiency as laid out in the master plan. At the same time, to link the theory to real practice, the agricultural students have to aim their internship as well as their research by concentrating on those issues which occur locally. Must enhance by all means and expand the technical promotion to farmers and agricultural development communities in order to upgrade both quantity and quality of the agricultural products to serve the local demand and for export.
4- All provinces and municipalities, khans and districts must impose tough measures to protect mangrove forest surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake, fishing lots and fishing communities to maintain spawning areas by definitely reducing the illegal ownership of the fishing lots in the fishing areas. All ministries, institutions, municipality and provincial departments in cooperate with the development partners must think of the priority to include the fishery sector to its development plan. Must have strong measures to strengthen the fishing communities in the whole country for the sustainable use of the fishery resources and re-abound the fishery resources by establishing the training and management institution responsible for the deep research on the technical and managerial methodologies.
5- Every recommendation that I have mentioned regarding the forest sector, all the related institutions have to effectively execute with no “fear” or “forgiveness”. Meanwhile, we must declare the 2002 forestry coverage map as the basis map to determine the Cambodian forest border. Taking this opportunity, I would like the Ministry of Justice to hold the strong position and urgently enforce to the municipal and provincial judges, particularly all of the municipal and provincial prosecutors to pay high attention on illegal forestry logging. At the same time, we must assign groups of skillful lawyers from the Royal Government to participate in the court hearing which related to illegal activities of logging, burning, bulldozing, and surrounding the forest land to be privately owned land throughout the country.
6- The municipal and provincial governors must call for meetings and promote the reduction of the illegal movement of the animals and the animal-products particularly birds and bird-products imported from the countries or region that are being threatened by bird flue because this type of disease impacts seriously to the national economy and our citizen’s life. At the same time, the municipal and provincial governors, royal arm force and other concerned institutions must cohesively work together and ease the vets to examine the illicitness activities.
7- Promote the development of family and private rubber plantation throughout the country with the available existing potential of red soil land and other type of rubber grow land. Meanwhile, we also have to study on the possibility of developing family rubber plantation sector in the ACMECS-framework cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia as the spirit of the ACMEC meeting with the development partners held on October, 7 2005 in Phnom Penh. Moreover, we have to do the research on the rubber seed, its growth technical, the fertilize usage and to wider promote all the rubber-tree growers by communicating with the International Rubber Institution and other International Rubber Organizations to assist the Cambodian Rubber Research Institute in evaluating the quality of the latex which could lead to the issue of Cambodian certificate of origin for rubber. Must find the rubber market by selling directly to the customers to reduce the middlemen. Country wide promotion on the information of both national and international rubber market and motivate the investment on the industrial modification sector of latex, rubber trees to final goods.
The above issues are just some notations which can be used in successful agricultural sector development. Particularly the participation of all the stakeholders especially the participation of the farmers is the foremost factor to define the success in agricultural development which demand the support of all means including mental and other financial intervention to entirely encourage their participation to upgrade this sector to the future with hopes. In order to successfully accomplish the strategic goals as well as the raised recommendations, we have to define the action program to ensure the effective implementation and thoroughly monitor those activities with transparency.
Actually, these are not easy, it requires the joint efforts of leaders at all levels with equity and balance under the cohesive cooperation with all officials in the ministries and cooperation with a sense of mutual understanding, ministries-related institutions of the Royal Government, local authorities, royal arm forces and civil society who are actively participate in the development of agriculture sector as set out in the master plan and planned target in order to reduce the poverty of the Cambodians as stated in the CMDGs.
Once again, I would take this opportunity to sincerely thank to all development partners who seriously participated in the rehabilitation and development of agricultural sector. The achievement which we will make in the near future is depend on our strong belief and commitment that we make together with development partners, private sector, cooperative communities and NGOs to victoriously rehabilitate the agriculture sector.
At the same time, I also hope that all the participants in this conference will take part in the spirit of high responsibility, especially provide actual and instant ideas and recommendations to verify and modify our achievement to become good experiences for the future, especially to make this meeting willingly united to direct implementation to achieve as the plan as well as the recommendations which has put for this upcoming year.
Finally, on the eve of the coming Khmer New Year, the year of dog, 2550 BD, I am pleased to you all happiness and the five gems of Buddhist blessing. May I now declare the opening of MAFF Stock Taking Conference 2005-2006.