Sunday, May 2, 2010

Keynote Address at the Stocktaking Conference of the 2009-2010 Achievements in Agriculture

Keynote Address at the Stocktaking Conference of the 2009-2010 Achievements in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Sectors and Direction Setting for 2010-2011

Royal University of Agriculture, April 6, 2010

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure today to be here in the closing of this “Stocktaking Conference of the 2009-2010 Achievements in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Direction Setting for 2010-2011”. Taking this opportunity, I would like to welcome Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen distinguished national and international guests and all the students in this event. This allows us to exchange ideas and experiences on current drawbacks and challenges and review the past performance so that we can identify new measures and action plans to match the objective of the agriculture sector and promote participation from related institutions/ministries, development partners and agencies, private sector, and the community to maximize efficiency and agriculture development. The work reviewed and implemented must be continued to be undertook consistently among all the ministries/institutions and all related parties to ensure development and prosperity for the society.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has indeed performed notably to take part in the socio-economic development effort. While countries across the globe were affected by high food prices from mid-2007 till early 2008, Cambodia was not an exception. Although this problem affected non-agricultural countries, but it is a new opportunity for agrarian countries like Cambodia.

With concerted effort and favorable condition, Cambodia’s agriculture sector has been continuously expanded and strengthened. Cambodia has been able to produce surplus rice for exports for years. Even in the face of damage from pesticide and natural catastrophes such as drought, flood, Ketsana hurricane, it still managed to overcome these problems. We could expand the cultivated areas by an average of 47,000 hectares per year from 2004 to 2008. The average rice yields reached 2.74 tons per hectare (both seasons) in 2008-2009. Along with this, MAFF has worked closely with related ministries/institutions to timely take preventive measures and successfully tackle bird flu outbreak with ownership and experiences of competent officials who have skillfully diagnosed H5N1 strain and other diseases. Along with this, the MAFF has supplied farmers with some handy experiences and orchestrated the movement of public assistance during urgent situations.

Based on this performance, I can say both quantitative and qualitative progress in the agriculture sector has improved farmers’ income and standard of living and ensured diversification of agriculture since we have favorable condition, advancement and dynamics of agriculture production, supporting measures including credit line, irrigation and agricultural techniques.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the management and officials of MAFF for their hard work and great responsibility even facing with resource shortages. Along with this, I would like to commend the related ministries/institutions, local authorities, development partners and agencies, national and international NGOs, private sector and the community for the cooperation and support provided to the formulation of action plans and implementation to increase efficiency and quality and accelerate progress in the agriculture sector. These efforts and contribution spirit are a big catalyst for realizing the vision of the agricultural sector.

In general, the work on improving the agriculture sector which is prioritized under all circumstances is done with firm commitment but the scope of these efforts cannot respond fully to the needs across the country. We must continue to work at full capacity as this sector requires rigorous participation from all parties, and I urge related ministries/institutions, development partners and agencies, community and private sector to continue to provide material, financial and technical support to restore and expand the physical infrastructure, develop institutional capacity and human resources, expand the scope of agriculture development for more timely and comprehensive response to the actual needs.

I am still optimistic that productivity improvement and diversification, as stipulated in the Rectangular Strategy will remain a priority principle for now and foreseeable future. In this spirit, I have always paid high attention to the agriculture development since it is a core mechanism for economic growth and improved living standard of some 80% of the total population. Taking this opportunity, I would like to share some humble ideas and recommendations to add more weight to the formulation of the 2010-2011 action plan so that major objectives including productivity improvement and diversification of rice production, cash crops and industrial crops, fisheries products, animals and agro-industry will be fulfilled. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries must:

1. continue to improve productivity, agricultural diversification and agricultural exports by implementing integrated agricultural systems through soil improvement based on the management of arable land, seed selection, encouragement of the use of machineries, and expansion of extension services such as dissemination of agricultural techniques and agriculture cooperatives, agricultural marketing and rural credit through organizing rural financial system and promote development of agro-industry and food processing to increase value-added and income to farmers and export. Moreover, MAFF must continue to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the speed of implementing sectoral and sub-sectoral plan and programs in order to readjust the next year direction and update medium term strategic plan following the Agriculture Strategic Development Plan and Agriculture and Water Strategy. Moreover, MAFF has to speed up some necessary draft laws for the immediate needs of legal framework to support the implementation of agriculture strategic development plan and policy such as management safety of agricultural chemicals and materials, sanitary and phyto-sanitary and quality of products. In addition, MAFF has to promote a reform of agriculture community by transforming this local mechanism to be a capable production base, financially resourceful, and reliable to the market, especially through contract farming and encouragement participation from private sector following open market principle and development of agro-industry in processing, competition and export of agricultural products.

2. further promote livestock focusing on improved breed, feeds, up-to-date technology and development bio-gas plant for farmers for beef up production in both quantity and quality. Moreover, it should strengthen monitoring and prevent outbreak of communicable diseases from animal to animal, animal to human and human to animal as well as from a region to another. This can be done through vaccine and bio-safety campaign, strengthening village animal health officers and controlling moving of animal within and across the country. That can prevent outbreak of diseases that may affect the economy and public health. Moreover, MAFF must take oat in order to receive the legal status as justice police according to the penal code of the Kingdom of Cambodia in order to promote the capacity and facilitate the operation of law enforcement of the competent authorities at the local levels to be highly effective and efficient in observing, monitoring and taking action against the related crimes such as crimes on agricultural materials, sanitary and phyto-sanitary, which are significantly related to the food safety in agricultural production. Besides, MAFF must cooperate with the related institutions, especially the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Interior, Competent Authorities along the border pass to be well aware and be able to take action to prevent the illegal imported and exported agricultural products, design the strategy to boost the substitution production, especially fruits, birds, live pigs by inspiring the people to produce and change from the habit of waiting to buy to the habit of self-producing for regional supply.

3. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I have so far put out order and recommendations related to the issues of forestry such as recommendations during closing of the agriculture stock-taking conference on 9 April 2009, closing of the stock-taking workshop for military reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces of the Ministry of National Defense on 28 January 2010 and the inauguration of the headquarter of the intervention regiment No.3 in Peak Sbek, Chuam Khsan District, Preah Vihear Province on 6 February 2010, that all related ministries and institutions, especially the Forest Administration must try their best to disseminate and constantly and strictly implement those orders and recommendations with more effective, meaning that it is not just to wave off the smoke but also completely extinguish the fire, which is the main cause, and constantly report on this case. At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to further stress that all ministries and institutions, all kinds of armed forces and local authorities to continue implementing this campaign to be highly effective, eliminate the culture of intervention for all those issues and follow the legal procedure. Along with that, the Forestry Administration and related ministries and institutions must participate in implementing the National Forestry Day, organized according to the international practice by having to prepare the roadmap to strengthen the implementation a mechanism to prevent further deforestation and degrading of Cambodian National Forest, the management and use of state-owned forest land nationwide in order to contribute to solving the problem of climate change and global warming, including the reforestation, forest rehabilitation, and the protection and preservation of the national forest with sustainability and increase the forest cover of 60% of the national land surface according to the millennium development goal 2015. The Forestry Administration must continue to further push and deepen the research studies and scientific development of forestry-wildlife, that is timely to the national and international situation such as research studies on all kinds of plants, wildlife, biodiversity and all kinds of forestry products including the case of Mrah Prov Phnom oil, Romeat vine etc and must study in details about the roles and functions of the forest ecosystem in relation with the issue of climate change, water, land and living condition of the people living near the forest areas in order to enhance the awareness and encourage the people to love and pay attention to protect, maintain and use the forest resources with sustainability and high efficiency in the kingdom of Cambodia. In fact, the preservation of the environment is a significant value because it will provide lots of interest in the present and for the future generation.

4. Adding on my recommendations that I have already put forward during the occasion of the National Fishery Day, I would like MAFF to pay attention to promote the work of all kinds of aquatic products, especially the regions that are lack of fishes by encouraging and promoting the small scale fish rearing as a family business as well as creating the fish breeding farms in order to ensure the domestic needs. Along with this, the MAF must continue paying high attention to the creation of crab banks in order to increase quantity and richness of all kinds of crabs as well as freeing the small fish at the fishing lots communities...etc; and must set up important shelters for national fishes and strengthen the capacity of fishing community along the beaches, fresh water in order to contribute to the management of fisheries resources with sustainability. Along with that, MAFF, local authorities and all levels of competent authorities must cooperate to study and evaluate comprehensively the allocation of land concession or other development land that have impact on the inundated forest, mangrove forest, flora and sea grass, which are the main shelter of aquatic life, especially to prevent the deforestation of inundated forest, contraction of water reservoir for dry season farming in the provinces along the Tonle Sap lake and fisheries crime by strictly strengthening the monitoring activities and continue to enforce the legal procedure. As for the water basin that has been illegally built within the fishing demarcation, it must be urgently dismantled. The 16 Water Basins in Kampong Thom Province were already destroyed by the Royal Government of Cambodia. To continue, MAFF must study about technical issues of other remaining reservoir in order to clearly define the fixes for the reservoir that serving the real interest of the farmer community and need to keep and inspect all reservoirs that cannot be fixed must completely destroyed. The study should be done through integration approach by being able to coordinate the public investment program and private investment in a form of BOT. At the same time, the provincial authority must prevent and stop the building of Water reservoir and illegal lake, river, canal, beach and sea filling; and the fisheries administration must take level measures according to the law on fishery against people who are involve in those illegal acts.

5. Continue to take back economic land concession, where concessionaire has not followed the contracts and illegally encroached forest land for rehabilitation and development of Cambodia forest. Moreover, MAFF must enhance its capacity and means both in term of human resources, equipment and budget to effectively and efficiently fulfill its mission.

In this regards, the Royal Government has a strong believe that excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the officers of the MAFF at all hierarchy, are going to work hard, strict and with high attention. So, the new achievements will contribute to enhance honor, integrity and dignity of our country both in the region and the world.

Once again, I would like to express compliment and appreciation on the leadership and officers of MAFF for their active efforts and high responsible to attain many achievements in agriculture, forestry and fishery sector and continue this tradition to overcome obstacles and to reach above mentioned vision. At the same time, I would like to appeal to relevant ministries/institutions, local authority, armed forces, development partners and agencies, national and international organization and private sector continue to support the farmers in all forms and development work of agriculture making constant progress and proud. The development of agriculture sector and improvement livelihood of people are the objectives of the government and the whole society.

Finally, with declaration to close the Stocktaking Conference of the 2009-2010 Achievements in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Sectors and Direction Setting for 2010-2011 and in the occasion of Khmer Traditional New Year, Year of Tiger, Buddhist Era 2554 coming next week, I wish your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen four blessing of Buddha: longevity, wealthy, happiness and strength.

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