Saturday, April 23, 2011

Speech at the 2010 – 2011 Stocktaking and 2011 – 2012 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Royal University of Agriculture, 7 April 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear all Participants!

Today, I am pleased to attend the ceremony for the “Closing of 2010 – 2011 Stocktaking and 2011 – 2012 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries”, which is significantly important for Cambodian society. At first, I would like to extend my warm welcome to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, and all lecturers and students who have attended this closing ceremony of the conference. This ceremony truly provides a valuable time for us to meet, discuss and exchange ideas on weaknesses, opportunity and confronting problems, and reappraise and assess the achievements that we have made in the past. In general, through this ceremony we have an appropriate opportunity to gather knowledge in order to closely work together to find new measures for the continued planning preparation and implementation with the focus on agriculture sector and the promotion of active participation from all ministries-institutions, development partners and agencies, private sector and communities to ensure the effectiveness of work and the development of agriculture. The work that we will introduce for implementation necessarily need to be consistent with the work of ministries-institutions and relevant stakeholders in order to achieve new fruits for our society and serve as a base for supporting the economic growth at present and in the future.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly value the management of the ministry and civil servants at all levels of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for fulfilling their work with responsibility and good accomplishment in 2010. All these achievements cannot be decoupled from the tireless efforts and the persistence in addressing facing challenges, until agriculture sector of Cambodia has made many proud achievements, and has been steadily and continuously promoted and given attention to. In this spirit, I firmly hope that we devote all our spirits, efforts and minds to continue the hard-work with the performance of each individual duty in order to achieve new objectives in the years ahead.

The Royal Government always considers the agriculture development as a priority area in all situations for Cambodia and a necessary work because the scope of the work has helped complement the sharing of the fruits of economic growth, the increase in national productivity and jobs, the use of maximum potential of economic resources and the promotion of living standards of people about 80% countrywide. In this facing spirit, we all need to further continue the implementation work with great focus in order to successfully achieve the rehabilitation and expansion of physical infrastructure, the development of institutional capacity and human resources, and the continued expansion of the scope of work on agriculture development sector to be more comprehensive, and to timely and effectively respond to the real need that often occurs. With this view, I believe that the progress of agriculture sector is not just a core of the driver of economic growth but also promotes the living standards of the people and maintain food security as well. In fact, the recent need for agricultural production is high at global markets, resulting in the increase in food prices globally; and that is a concern of the world on the food security issue as well.

This event has caused an increase in investment in this sector rapidly to satisfy the supply need of food that has been forecasted to continue increasing in the medium-term ahead. Hence, Cambodia has to seize this opportunity, in particular the promotion in paddy rice and milled rice exports that are our advantage sectors. By doing so, we not only make economic growth increase but also make the cracking-dry rice fields become lush green in all seasons as well as allow rural youths to have jobs and ability to upgrade their living standards. Truly, this work is a medium-term mean for moving Cambodian rural areas closer to urban areas; and also for closing the gap between the rich and the poor.

Based on the speech delivered by H.E Chan Sarun, it shows that paddy production in 2010 reached almost 2.8 million hectares on the cultivation land areas of about 2.78 million hectares. For that, the annual average yield for both dry and rainy seasons was 2.97 tons per hectare; last year we only received 2.83 tons per hectare. In terms of total paddy rice production, we received 8.25 million tons; and we have 2.5 million tons of milled rice remaining or equivalent to 3.9 million tons of paddy rice, which is a great achievement for Cambodia. Total yields increased around 8.75% in 2010, compared to 2009 due to increase in the planting area, irrigation development, improvement of farming technique and management, new advanced technology and high yield seed. Overall, we are so proud that rice yield is gradually increased and we have considered that rice paddy remains one of the key factors to support living standard of our people in the rural area of Cambodia. Moreover, I have observed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has promoted all agricultural crops, especially strategic agricultural crops such as rubber and other crops, poultry and sub-fishery sector, which do not only meet the need of domestic consumptions but also increase the surplus for exports.

I am optimistic with pride that the improvement of agricultural production and diversification remain the current and future priority. In this spirit and with the objective to further contribute to key recommendations I have previously made for implementation in this sector, I would like to take this opportunity to give more practical recommendations for your consideration as follows:

First, continue to improve agricultural productivity, diversification, export promotion and build farming infrastructure, agricultural experiment station and development center to ensure research and development as well as transfer new advanced technology to farmers. In addition, we have to pay attention to change the way of farmers’ practices on agriculture production, including moving from subsistent agricultural production to industrial agriculture, through farmer cooperative program, which can be a mechanism to further increase farmer’s capability in financial and technical resource. In this regard, I would like to suggest the Rural Development Bank and the Agricultural Development Support Fund to seek financing to support farming cooperatives, who are the agricultural crops producers.

Second, continue to advice professional agriculture organization and veterinarian to seriously take both technical and lawful measures on agricultural production sub-sector and veterinarian to increase all kinds of poultry production, prevention of infected disease on animal and public health, bear more responsibility on animal and animal-product illegally imported from oversea. Within this, we must continuously disseminate the Announcement No. 549 date May 20, 2010 on the decision made at the 15th private sector-government forum on “all forms of domestic product delivery is openly made without any check-up along the road, excepts hygiene examination, animal health and meat quality, which is to be controlled at departure, middle and final place because this would have effect on human and animal health, in particular the prevention of contagious disease”. Furthermore, I have often noticed that poor quality of meat imported by dishonest businessmen has been confiscated and burned by our police, but have rarely seen that those people were sent to the court. I am wondering whether dishonest businessmen are strong or police does not enforce our laws and regulations. In this regard, I would like to remind all level of authorities to take serious action with higher responsibility without any involvement with dishonest business activities and businessmen. In addition, we must carefully enforce existing laws and regulation to combat and eliminate the import of poor quality of meat and ill animals; and we have to seek for dishonest businessmen to be sent to the court and serious actions must be taken on all polices and agencies involved in these business activities as well. We acknowledge that poor quality of products thrown away is very bad for health of our people and society and we are more critical we will see that they consider “Cambodia as rubbish dump for them.” Do you think that these activities contribute to improving the honor, dignity and prestige of our nation? These points should be seriously and carefully considered.

Third, continue to cooperate with related ministries and local authorities to timely combat deforestation of the flooded forests in prohibited zone such as third layer zone surrounding Tonle Sap Lake and mangroves and must set up strategic mechanism to prevent the land grabbing in the flooded forests and mangroves areas. At the same time, Tonle Sap Authority has to clearly define border of the reserved area (core or third zone) and other area are defined on the basis of information and studied documents, including documents produced by the Mekong River Commission and information on floating rice produced by pre-war regime should be considered for people use. Yet, newly occupied anarchic land should be confiscated.

Fourth: the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities and all levels of competent authorities must firmly cooperate with each other in order to prevent the provision of land concession or other development lands, which affect the flooded forests, mangrove, sea flowers and seaweed, which are the important shelter for national fishes, especially around Tonle Sap Lake and coastal areas.

Fifth: must pay further attention to promote all kinds of aqua-culture development such as pond feeding, farm feeding and BAE feeding according to the situational practicality, especially in the area of water shortage, fish shortage by encouraging and boosting for small scale fish rearing for family consumption as well as attracting investors to participate in the intensive aqua-farming in order that this sector can help strengthen aqua-culture. Along with that, the Fisheries Administration at the local levels must continue paying attention to the promotion of standing by at each fishing lot in order to carefully monitor the fishing instruments, which have been used in the lots, to be legal and conforming to the technical standard. In addition, you have to strength the monitoring activities of investigating the fisheries criminal acts through out the country, especially the activities of destroying small fishes and fishes for breeding.

Sixth: must try to set up the forest protection area and preserve the forest resource, in particular along the range of Cardamom Mountain in order to sustain the water regulation for the process of hydro-electricity and maintain the good scenery and environment for the development of eco-tourism. The Fisheries Administration must also cooperate with the relevant institutions and local authorities, development partners, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to promote the implementation of National Forestry Program to be more effective as planned. At the same time, the Forestry Administration and all related ministries-institutions must participate in implementing this National Forest Program organized according to the universal principles by paying further attention to the roadmap for strengthening the mechanism to prevent the loss and degradation of the forest, management and use of state-owned forest land for reforestation nationwide quickly in order to contribute to solving the issue of climate change and global warming, in which there are more reforestation, restoration of all kinds of forests and preservation and development of forest with sustainability and increase the forest cap up to 60% of the total land surface according to the Millennium Development Goal by 2015. Moreover, we must continue confiscating the economic land concession, that the concession recipients have not complied with the contract, and confiscate the forest lands that have been illegally occupied, with the objective to restore and develop our national forest. In this connection, I would like to remind the competent authorities to accelerate solving the cases related to forest criminal acts as soon as possible, and request the court to condemn at the maximum level to those who commit the forest criminal acts, especially the criminals who prevent and threaten the lives of the skilled competent authorities during the suppression mission; and I have mentioned these issues every year already. Another critical issue is to suggest the local authorities, all kinds of armed forces, court and related institutions to cooperate with the Forestry Administration in continuing the campaign to constantly crack down the forest criminal acts through out the country with effectiveness and efficiency. As for the Forestry Administration, you have to pay particular attention to the strengthening of strict disciplines among the forestry officials as well.

Once again, I would like to appreciate and highly value the management and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who have tried your utmost in active contribution with high responsibility in achieving and building various achievements in the sector of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and I would encourage you all to continue this noble tradition in order to overcome all obstacles to achieve the visions we have set. In the meantime, I would like to appeal to related ministries-institutions, local authorities, armed forces, development partners and agencies, national and international organizations, private sector and the community to continue participating in all forms to support farmers and the national agriculture development to be more developed with pride. It is true that the better growth in agriculture sector will allow lots of Cambodian people, who are doing farming, to receive interest from this growth, and their living will also be further upgraded. The progress in agriculture and the promotion of living standard of the people are the intentions of the Royal Government and Cambodian society as a whole.

Before ending, I would like to appeal, once again, to Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Participants to participate in the implementation of the action plan mentioned as well as trying to share information, knowledge and experiences received from this conference to officials, staffs, colleagues for the improvement of implementation and duties in order to achieve new accomplishments, based on our National Agriculture Development Strategy.

At the end, together with the closing of “2010-2011 Stocktaking of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and 2010-2012 Direction-Setting Conference” now; and during the occasion of Khmer Traditional New Year of Rabbit, Buddhist Ear (BE) 2555 that is coming next week, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Lecturers, Students and Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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