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Hun Sen: Agriculture Key to Reducing Poverty

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday told officials at the Ministry of Agriculture that growth in their traditional sector was the key to raising millions of Cambodians out of poverty.

"Agricultural development is a main point to reduce poverty in Cambodia, and I expect this year Cambodia will have only 30 percent under the poverty line," Hun Sen said, speaking at a closing ceremony of an annual agricultural conference in Phnom Penh.

Ministry officials and economists said Friday the sector was important for poverty reduction.

The government should work to promote agriculture to improve Cambodia's economy, one economist said, but it should not rely completely on one sector.

In 2007 economic earnings from rice paddy grew 50.8 percent and for other crops between 4 percent and 8 percent, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said Friday.

But while agriculture has the potential to reduce Cambodian poverty, said Kang Chandararath, an economist and director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies, the government must ensure enough land for people to grow crops.