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Gov’t Bows to Farmers’ Complaints Over Cash Crop Prices


Local Cambodian farmers plant rice at a farm during the rainy season in Phlang village, May 16, 2012.

Local Cambodian farmers plant rice at a farm during the rainy season in Phlang village, May 16, 2012.

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon has issued an order in an attempt to stabilize plummeting prices of agricultural products.

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon has issued an order in an attempt to stabilize plummeting prices of agricultural products.

The order came after farmers complained about the falling price of agricultural products.

Sakhon wrote to his provincial subordinates ordering them to intervene to fix the price of produce and stop predatory traders keeping the prices low.

The ministry also called on the rice millers’ association to assist.

Lor Reaksmey, a spokesman for the minster, said the measures were a short-term move aimed at stabilizing prices, adding that he was also encouraging farmers’ associations to carry out more contract farming to keep prices at a sustainable level.

He pointed to a group of farmers in Kampong Thom province, who are contracted by a South Korean company to export mangoes.

“It’s not a small [operation], it’s 7,000 hectares. They have a contract without farmers to export mangoes, so they can’t lower the price,” he said.

China has also recently signed a rice import agreement with Phnom Penh for 20,000 tons.

Sngoun Yors, a farmer in Banteay Meanchey province, said the drop in the price of cash crops had badly affected the income of farmers in the area.

“If the price is high or low, [the farmers] need to sell their crop, because they don’t have money,” he said, adding that many farmers in the area had moved to Thailand to seek better opportunities.

Sam Vitou, executive director of the Cambodia Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the government’s measures were a good first step, but in order to keep crop prices stable it would need to invest.

“The special funds can buy produce at a price which is acceptable for farmers and to prevent traders from lowering the price too much, because we can all see that even when we [farmers] work with the rice millers they don’t buy.”

As a long-term measure, he said that the government should invest in irrigation systems and reducing the reliance on fertilizers and pesticides.

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