Monday, March 9, 2009

Selected Comments at the Graduation Ceremony and Inauguration of Buildings in the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) at Chamka Daung

06 March 08

I am so glad that I could be present today with all of 955 graduates and to put into use the six-classroom building built with non-interested aid from the Government of the Republic of France. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciations to the efforts made and the success scored by the graduates with endless supports of their families and faculties involved. My wife and I feel grateful to all of our graduates who picked up agriculture as their major in life and also because it is the prioritized sector for the country economic growth.

As is noted by HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Rector Chan Naret in relations to training as well as placement in workplace, there is still this point of concern about distribution of trained agriculturalists across the board facing with a number of demands to be met for those officials to go work in rural areas.

It is so impressed that 64.26% of the graduation theses is relating to the community and cooperative foundation, whereas 35.74% is relating to works in experimental farm, experimental orchards, which belong to the Ministry of AFF, the central administration, private sector and marketing. It is worth mentioning that I did not come here in the school year 2006-2007 and my promise has not been met in term of building roads to this side of the town.

As is mentioned by HE Kep Chuktema, the Governor of Phnom Penh, the promise has been fully addressed and we have even stretched the road to Choeung Ek and to the National Road 2 as well. Traveling to Takeo province, one does not have to return to Phnom Penh to start from the beginning of the NR 2.

I thank the Governor of Phnom Penh and also the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces' engineering team for making the achievement possible and we will take March 18 - the day on which 38 years ago there was a coup that removed Samdech Preah Norodom from power - to inaugurate so that the sad date is being replaced as the happy one. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the Government of the Republic of France for their provision of grant to build more buildings and I would like to remind all of us here that the French helps us in the Royal School of Administration, Laws, Medicine and Agriculture. I would like to send this gratefulness to HE Nicolas Sakozy the President of France, who have agreed to continue to provide whatever is earmarked to be provided to Cambodia by the former President Jacque Chirac.

In the course of the two countries' relations, I have called HE Jean David who was formerly co-chairman of the Paris Peace Agreement that I would like to reschedule my visit to France at a more convenient time because Cambodia is approaching its general elections and I need to be in the country with the only exception that I will leave the country to Vientiane for the Greater Mekong Subregion meeting. After the elections, if CPP is elected and I will become the next Prime Minister, I will then see through the establishment of the new Government and wait till the new cabinet is in routine that I will consider the visit to foreign country. If CPP does not win, I could not go to France as well but I could do it on my personal capacity.

Since we are in the run-up the elections I would take a clear stand that if I were to lose the elections I would not hesitate in recognizing the elections results - whether lose or win. If I were to lose would propose the winner to set up the Government according to the Constitution and convene the meeting within 60 days and the power transfer will be held at the new Cabinet's office in stable political situation. I would urge that there exist free, fair and just elections - with transparency and non-violence conditions as well. I am sure they will launch attack on each other but whatever they do they should not go too far to instigate violence pushing the country into a situation like Kenya.

I do not know if what I have read in the news is truly or not is said but it has written that one person in his meeting with the European Union, has requested the latter to not recognize the electoral results in 2008. It is so ironical.

On January 31, 1984-85, after working for two weeks as the country's Prime Minister, I came to establish this University. I think we should discuss about new need for the RUA take for instance the multi purpose hall of common in which graduation ceremony as such could be performed in it. I think I will build the hall and HE Chan Sarun will take care of air-conditioning system. This has to be done now. I do not believe in the idea of being elected first and building after.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to foreign friends who helped the RUA as well as agricultural sector in Cambodia as a whole. Agriculture in Cambodia has a huge potential still. From helicopter, take for instance in my flight together with the President of Asian Development Bank (ADP) to Sisophon's railways rehabilitation ceremony, we came across dry-season cultivation field without water. I told him this is the potential left in agriculture that has yet to come into play. I told him if we were to be able to double the cultivation output like in Thailand, the country's export capacity of rice will be higher than that of Thai's or even Vietnam.

I do not know from other people's opinion, but for me I learn that in Vietnam they have leveled without a single termite hill left for that purpose. In Vietnam, they have intensified their cultivation to a maximum degree that harvest and replanting process take place at the same time. Drought has indeed affected the potential that Cambodia has in reserve. Some countries is in the crisis situation of producing just to maintain the machines or sustain human demand. Now some countries feel severe impact because of high oil prices and change of weather pattern and condition. I have to admit that some of the studies have proven correct that some places with condition unfavorable for rice cultivation should be oriented to cultivating other crops such as sugar cane, potatoes, etc.

However in the recent years our economy depends mainly on export of garments, tourism and construction, with agriculture bearing only 30.1% in the GDP (industry 26.2%, and service 38.6%). In 1994, agriculture shared 45.5% of the GDP and what we want is to bring agriculture's share to ten or less than ten percent whereas industry, service should be up. This should not be a question because agriculture in developed countries always rank lower and smaller take for instance in France on 1%. In Korea, in 1996 there was 12% while in 2008 only 3%.

Making the agricultural share smaller does not mean that we lower the production size and only service and industry will take a bigger share. In 1994, we have a share of 45.5% from agriculture in the country's GDP, but it was on 1,700,000 hectares. As of now we have a share of only 30.1% but we have cultivated on 2,500,000 hectares. The MAFF is busy zonifying areas where produce could be cultivated and standardized for exports -- while consideration is being focused on chemical free produce as chemical-use produce will not make inroad to the European market. As you can see the way to get high economic growth with less risk is agriculture. Clothing is so fragile and risky, because only with market fluctuation in Europe or the US, order power has gone down and that would have a serious impact on Cambodia.

Tourism is also vulnerable to high risk take for instance it suffered a serious blow at the time when the world was hit by SARS, bird flu, terrorism, etc. However, agriculture is the strongest area facing with all problem, take for instance export of rubber, coffee, palm oil, sugar, etc. Cambodia has so much potential on land - but we need to address irrigation issue. But also we have to identify which part of the country should be converted into multi cropping system. Facing with growing number of tourists in the country, vegetables and flowers growing is a good produce to do. Need for meat also is high. This coming Saturday I will visit a water reservoir and distribution center, whereas in the whole countries we have hundreds of worksites underway.

Irrigation is one major problem but seed selection and change is another. We have to consider various input in terms of seed, technology and cultivation process. We should prove to our people that new seed is productive and effective. Showing our people how to go about planting through to harvesting is important. If we were to provide our people with water to irrigate we will see also that the issue of migration will be less because people could create their own jobs./.


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