Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellency Fumiaki Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia;
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Dear Compatriots and Beloved Students,
Today, I have the great pleasure to join H.E. Fumiaki Takahashi, Japanese Ambassador, the distinguished national and international guests, and especially my beloved compatriots in inaugurating the achievements made under the rehabilitation project of water storage “Trapang Thmar” in Phnom Srok District, Banteay Meanchey Province. This project is financed by a Japanese non-project grant provided to Cambodian people and government. The achievements include the damps and many other facilities which further testify the log-lasting and close friendship between Cambodia and Japan.
So far, the Royal Government of Japan has provided substantial assistance to Cambodia in terms of technical and financial support including grants and all kinds of charity, which have served the purpose of Cambodia’s rehabilitation and development. Clearly, this new achievement, the rehabilitation of Trapang Thmar Water Storage, will indeed contribute to reducing the poverty among people in this region. This indeed is in line with the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy aiming at reducing poverty among people through the promotion of economic growth, employment generation for our labor, and enhancement of equity and social justice, as well as the strengthening of efficiency in public sector focusing on implementation of comprehensive reforms.
At the same time, I would like to emphasize that the rehabilitation of Trapang Thmar Water Storage was an initiative of management and civil servant of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, as well as that of the authorities and concerned agencies at all levels, who made their utmost efforts to implement the project, including the cooperation with friendly countries and other international organizations. Moreover, people living around this area have provided their land for the construction of the irrigation system; these are our commitment and partnership in developing a more potential Trapang Thmar Water Storage.
Cambodia is an agrarian economy with more than 2 millions hectares cultivated lands for agriculture. This contributes to around 40% of domestic production, while about 80% of population is making their living from agriculture. Thus, developing agricultural sector is a key strategy for strengthening the agricultural base to not only support and help to promote long term economic growth, but also to reduce poverty of our people.
Development experiences show that developing agricultural sector and advancing the economy can be achieved by strengthening the production base and promoting the use of modern technology in the agriculture, including expansion of irrigation system, water storage, intensification, diversification and improvement agricultural productivity, agro-industry, animal husbandry, promoting small domestic production-supporting industry and agricultural and agro-industrial processing for exports.
Indeed, the diversification is a move towards producing other crops beside rice that have a higher value added or expand the production activities in other agricultural sub-sector, such as animal husbandry which has high value added price, promoting processing production, market access and exports of agricultural and agro-industrial production and etc that Cambodia can joint in competition. In fact, the development of agricultural sector can ensure food security, poverty reduction and can exports those products fulfilled domestic demand. Moreover, development of physical and capital infrastructure combined with gradual development of industry, smooth integration and financing provision through micro-finance to farmers and SMEs will help strengthen and accelerate economic growth.
The Royal Government’s water policy is to extend the irrigation coverage from 20 to 24 percent of rice fields within five years (2002-2007) by strengthening capacity and ownership in local areas through the establishment of strengthened capacity of the water users community. With this spirit, we have put all attention on establishing the Global Information System (GIS) management, water system that is related to lakes and rivers as well as monitoring and managing existing irrigation to ensure sustainability and credibility that serve as basis for information gathering. This will support sustainable water resources strategy formulation and development for the irrigation system, hydro-power, clean water supply, flood management, drought and environment.
In recent years, drought and flood are the major natural disasters in Cambodia and in the region and causing damages and great impact on human lives, animals, plants and social and economic infrastructures.
Although Cambodia has abundant water resource in raining season, limited ability to benefit from water to serve the livelihood of the people in rural area persists. At the same time, other issues such as holdups to water current in rivers, lakes and canals cause accumulated level of mud. This causes disasters both in time of drought and flood.
In this sense, the Royal Government has accorded priority on the preparation and implementation of land use policy which focuses on land distribution, management and administration with the effective application of the law on land management. To provide better ground for our people’s cultivation activities, we put our towering attention on public investment to support water policy through extended use of water sources, both underground and on-land sources. This includes rehabilitation, re-construction and establishment of well-equipped irrigation system. Rehabilitation programmes of all sizes of reservoirs and canal systems are being implemented as planned even if these tasks still require lot of time and investments.
According to the report by H.E. LIM Kean Hor a moment ago, this area was the vast rice field where located only two communes. But it is now transformed to become a reservoir that ensures the irrigation to cover 7,000 ha of dry season rice field; the area that used to be limited to cultivation of only 3,000 ha. It also ensures the second cultivation which covers 11,000 ha during the raining season. The budget for the dam construction reaches 1,710,928 US dollars which is the grant from the government people of Japan. Moreover, the rehabilitation project of Trapang Thmar irrigation system will transform this area into a tourist attraction since it is a wildlife sanctuary for a type of endangered specie named “Kreal”.
Cambodia used to be at her peak during the Angkorian period. Our ancestors were not only the builders of famous architectures such as Angkor Temple which is one of the wonder in the world and other thousand temples, but they were able to build irrigation system and use effective technology in agriculture as well as involve in international trade while people’s livelihood was warily taken care of. Thus, our country enjoyed prosperity and great notoriety as one of the most civilized nations during that period. There still remain lots of evidence today such as the west reservoir in Siem Reap-Angkor, canals around temples, lakes and waterways across the country. Indeed, we have to link ourselves to the history of our ancestors.
In this sense, we still believe that agriculture is the leading sector, the driving force and the blood vein for the development in other sectors and for the development of the economy as a whole.
This new achievement is yours; the people who live here in Phnom Srok district and who will be the direct beneficiaries. I usually urge you all to conserve this priceless achievement by closely coordinating with authorities at all level and all other concerned agencies. We all have to conserve and well manage this achievement by establishing water users community and transparently distributing water. This will ensure the sustainability of the use of the dam and also conserve it for longer use.
Taking this occasion, I would like to express my appreciation to the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Engineers Corps of the Royal Arms Forces, local authorities at all levels as well as national and international institutions that have put all their efforts in achieving this result, the Trapang Thmar Water Storage.
In closing, I would like to reiterate our deepest thanks, through H.E. Ambassador Fumiaki Takahashi, to the Japanese Government and People for always being the first donor to assist Cambodia so far and in the future. We highly appreciate the friendship, cooperation and all kind assistance provided to us for the development of our country.
Finally, may I wish you all, the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and all our Compatriots, the five gems of Buddhist blessings. I would now declare the opening of Trapang Thmar Water Storage in Phnom Srok District, Banteay Meanchey Province.