Paddy rice farms curb losses from lost land

April 7th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian paddy rice production fell only slightly during the first half of this year’s dry season, despite 12,000 hectares of usually productive land deemed unusable due to last year’s floods.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, dry season paddy rice production between December and April fell 1.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. …

Chan Muyhong
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/paddy-rice-farms-curb-losses-lost-land

Big logging cartel alleged

April 1st, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s brother Hun Neng and a Vietnamese state-owned rubber firm are involved in an illegal logging cartel involving several well-connected companies operating on a “massive scale” in the embattled Prey Lang forest, forest monitors working in the area allege.

Video footage and photographs advocacy groups say were shot over the past two weeks show trucks bearing the logo of tycoon Try Pheap’s MDS Import Export Co Ltd transporting timber to sawmills in Kampong Thom’s Chu Pah Rubber Development Project and a social land concession allegedly overseen by Hun Neng.

The Chu Pah project is run by CRCK II Kampong Thom, which is a subsidiary of the Vietnamese government’s state-owned Vietnam Rubber Group. …

May Titthara and Daniel Pye
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/big-logging-cartel-alleged

Family’s world shrinks daily

March 12th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Dozens of trucks, bulldozers and excavators have pushed Var Sokhoeurn to the edge of his remaining land at the Lower Sesan II dam site in Stung Treng province’s Srepok district.

When Post reporters visited Sokhoeurn’s family last month, much of his land, where he grew cassava and other crops, had already been dug up without his consent.

Speaking yesterday, Sokheurn, 56, said the diggers of Lower Sesan II Co Ltd had further encroached onto his property. …

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that attempts to contact the Agriculture Ministry over the order to suspend the contract had failed. …

Phak Seangly and Daniel Pye
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/family%E2%80%99s-world-shrinks-daily

New owners, old story

March 6th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

An existing moratorium on economic land concessions should be no impediment to pouring more cash into the Kingdom’s booming, and highly criticised, rubber trade, industry executives in the capital heard yesterday, as many current ELCs can simply be recycled to a new crop of investors.

Ly Phalla, director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s General Directorate of Rubber, said at the fourth Rubber PLANT Summit at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel yesterday that 70 per cent of land designated for economic land concessions (ELCs) under the previous government was up for “review” and could be sold on to foreign investors.

“The last government placed a moratorium, that [it would allocate] no more ELCs, because [it] already provided 1.2 million hectares [to companies]. But recently, the new minister ordered all the documents for the ELCs [to be sent to] us to monitor and discuss with the companies of the projects,” he said. …

The conference, which was sponsored by three Southeast Asian rubber lobby groups – the Vietnam Rubber Association, the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia and the Dawei Rubber Planters and Producers Association – is the second of its kind to be held in Phnom Penh. …

The government estimates that by 2050, the $3 million scheme will mean the country produces nearly one million tonnes more rubber for export than using current rubber tree strains, netting the government an additional $3.5 billion in revenue, a figure questioned by some conference delegates. …

 

Daniel Pye
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/new-owners-old-story

Kings of concessions

February 25th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Vietnam and China lead the pack of foreign companies granted economic land concessions in Cambodia for agro-industrial development by a wide margin, new data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show.

According to the ministry’s annual report, released last month, since 1993 the government has offered concessions to 121 companies in total, 82 of which are foreign.

Foreign concessionaires were granted 620,987 hectares of land according to the ministry, just over half of the total 1.2 million hectares – a figure widely contested by rights groups – that the government says it has granted. Of the 82 foreign companies, 34 are Vietnamese, with 253,623 hectares granted, and 25 are Chinese, with 203,960 hectares granted, the report says.

Following well behind are seven Korean companies, four Thai companies, three Malaysian companies, three Indian companies, two Singaporean companies and one company each from the United States, Russia, Australia and Israel.​ …

Last year, the government terminated agreements with 11 companies granted 85,968 hectares of land after they were found to have failed to meet the development conditions of their leases, it adds. …

May Titthara
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/kings-concessions

Dam site still logged: NGOs

February 13th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

NGOS have accused logging tycoon Try Pheap’s MDS Import-Export Company – which had a licence to clear forest during the construction of the Stung Atai hydropower dam in Pursat – of continuing to log the area despite the dam being finished.

Ouch Leng, director of the Cambodian Human Rights Task Force (CHRTF), said he and officials from two other NGOs visited the dam site last week and observed logging in the area. …

Two other NGOs – the Natural Resource Protection Group and another that did not want to be named due to fear of repercussions – accompanied CHRTF members on the visit and supported Leng’s claims that logging was continuing around the Chinese-built dam in Veal Veng district.

Documents seen by the Post show that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries approved a request in 2009 for MDS to collect wood from the area while the dam was under construction. …

May Titthara
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/dam-site-still-logged-ngos

Three key Ministers take actions to protect the State’s land

February 5th, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

Three Ministers from the Ministry of Urbanization and Construction, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Environment have met to jointly set out work-plan to manage state’s land and natural resources.

The work-plan will be undertaken in line with the Government’s land policy introduced in July 2009 in which a list of inventory on the State’s intangible properties (land and buildings) will need to be gradually and clearly defined in a unified data with an aim to effectively control the State’s intangible properties, according to a statement released February 3. …

Since the demarcation will be done here and there across the country, the three Ministries agreed to begin their works with economic concession land and land on lease in order to make investment secure and to minimize land disputes

The Cambodia Herald News Staff
http://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=15&token=OWQyMWQyZTk1ZWM

Logging mogul blasted

October 29th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Logging tycoon Try Pheap has come under fire from two separate reports alleging that he is using his vast network of concessions and licences to decimate protected forests across Cambodia.

One of the reports, an exhaustive four-month investigation by a local NGO, also looked at the rapid destruction of the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary, which a forestry official conceded yesterday had been 90 per cent deforested.

The National Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO), in a letter sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen following its months-long investigation, called on the government to demarcate the borders of the country’s 30 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Chea Hean, the director of NRWPO, said the investigation had discovered illegal logging in every protected forest in the country.

“My team spent four months investigating, and we figured out that all the royal-decree-protected areas located throughout the country have been logged and cleared haphazardly without any interventions,” he said. …

Huge areas of formerly protected sanctuaries have been reclassified and divvied up for economic land concessions over the past several years, leaving just small areas protected. Those remaining areas, however, are increasingly threatened, according to a report released in August by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. …

In a separate indictment of Pheap’s conglomerate yesterday, MDS Import Export Co, Ltd was accused of using an ELC to develop a special economic zone in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district as a cover to illegally buy and transport rosewood and other luxury timbers. …

A Post investigation in April found that about 60 per cent of the 75,000-hectare sanctuary’s evergreen forest had been cleared since 2009 by companies operating the 10 ELCs known to exist there. Only a fraction of the 55,135 hectares of known granted ELCs remained green in satellite images sourced from NASA. …

Phak Seangly and May Titthara
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/logging-mogul-blasted

Flooding damage escalates

October 17th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Flooding has affected close to 287,000 hectares of rice fields, with about 27,800 considered damaged beyond repair, according to government statistics released on Monday.

The data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reveal that rising waters have affected about 11 per cent of the total cultivated area of rice, more than 2.5 million hectares. …

Hor Kimsay
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/flooding-damage-escalates

Tata moves in on agriculture

September 12th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

India-based Tata International Ltd announced yesterday that it would import and distribute its Farmtrac Tractors in Cambodia to profit from the country’s growing agricultural sector.

Speaking at the launching ceremony at the Koh Pich exhibition centre, Jitendra Manghinani, country manager of Tata South East Asia (Cambodia), said Cambodia is looking at a large agricultural machinery market in the next four or five years, which shaped his decision to set up operations in the sector. …

Four kinds of tractors will go on the market, ranging from 50 to 80 horsepower. Prices start at $22,300 and go as high as $32,600. …

Cambodia imported some 40,000 units of tractors in 2010, according to the most recent government data. A year later, 44,000 units arrived, while the number decreased slightly to around 36,300 in 2012. …

Hor Kimsay
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/tata-moves-agriculture

UN praises Cambodia ‘success’ in addressing child labor in fisheries

June 27th, 2013 , The Cambodia Herald

Two UN agencies praised Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration Thursday as an “example of success” for addressing child labour in fisheries.

In a joint report, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization recalled that the fisheries agency began raising awareness of child labour issues in October of 2011. …

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries subsequently endorsed a National Plan of Action on Eliminating Child Labor in the Fisheries Sector of Cambodia. …

The statement added that child labor concerns had also been incorporated in the Cambodia Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CAMCODE).

The Cambodia Herald Staff
http://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=15&token=OGYyZjE1OWYwZTF#sthash.4kwTBKTe.dpuf

Hun Sen Mocks Opposition Request for Donors to Freeze Aid

June 24th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday rebuked the opposition for urging foreign donors to refrain from signing any new agreements with the government until after the election and boasted of a new $26 million handed over last week by the European Union (E.U.) …

E.U. Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain signed the five-year deal for 20 million euros, or about $26.2 million, on Thursday—the same day the opposition issued its call for a freeze—along with Mr. Sarun and Finance Minister Keat Chhon. …

According to a copy of Mr. Cautain’s speech at the signing ceremony, the E.U. had been working with the government on the deal for the past two-and-a-half years and was giving aid for the first time to an entire sector rather than a specific project.

“This is, from our side, a strong show of confidence and trust in the capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to efficiently and properly manage our funding in order to realize the objectives of this financing agreement,” Mr. Cautain said. …

Khuon Narim and Zsombor Peter
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/hun-sen-mocks-opposition-request-for-donors-to-freeze-aid-31547/

A Troubled Start for Cambodia’s Carbon Credits

June 19th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

Since 2007, the NGO Pact has been working with the government to turn 68,000 hectares of forest in Oddar Meanchey province into a moneymaking venture for the state just by keeping trees in the area standing.

As part of the plan, Pact brought on board a U.S. brokerage, Terra Global Capital, to help sell the forest’s carbon credits to environmentally conscious firms in the West. Together, after years of preparatory work, the pair were finally closing in on approval of the project and a few months ago had even lined up two private buyers ready to spend nearly $1 million on the first batch of carbon credits from Oddar Meanchey.

But when the deciding moment came last month to put pen to paper, there was a glitch.

According to Pact, when the May 20 deadline they had set for the government to sign off on the carbon credit deal came and went without a signature, the two buyers Terra Global and Pact had spent so long nurturing simply walked away.

The loss of the carbon credit deal means more for Cambodia than simply missing out on the $1 million.

Pact country director Sarah Sitts said the failure to sell the carbon credits could hurt the country’s chances of attracting other buyers to a project that hopes to ultimately generate tens of millions of dollars over the next 30 years by protecting what is left of the country’s forests. …

Ms. Sitts said the two firms involved in the aborted deal had been waiting for at least a month and a half for the forestry administration to accept their offer to pay a combined $911,000 for the credits, but pulled out when the May 20 deadline they had set passed without a commitment from the government. …

The carbon credits up for sale would have come from a network of 13 government-recognized community forests in Oddar Meanchey province covering a combined 68,000 hectares.

As part of a U.N.-backed and funded initiative called REDD, for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, the project aims to convince private international companies wanting to offset their carbon emissions to pay Cambodia for every ton of carbon those forests keep locked up in their trees. …

The government handing out land to agri-business firms in the area poses other risks. While there are no economic land concessions yet in Oddar Meanchey’s 13 community forests, Mr. [Sa] Thlai [who heads the 13 community forest groups that patrol the project area] said he is concerned about a sugar cane plantation owned by Angkor Sugar that currently skirts the project area’s borders. He said the firm has cleared most of the trees on its concession since moving in five years ago but planted little sugarcane in their place.

Angkor Sugar is also one of three subsidiaries of the Thai firm Mitr Pohl operating plantations in the province. …

A 2010 study in Koh Kong province by the U.S.-based Center for Clean Air Policy calculated that carbon credits would have to sell for more than $15 per ton to compete with the likely revenue from growing sugarcane on the land instead, even more if it were used to harvest rubber.

The going price for carbon credits these days, at roughly $7 per ton, does not come close to the profit made possible from felling the forest.

Zsombor Peter and Kuch Naren
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/a-troubled-start-for-cambodias-carbon-credits-31277/

Cambodia feels drop in Asian rubber prices

June 6th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

The end of export restrictions in Thailand and a lowering of economic growth forecasts out of top rubber importers China, the United States and Germany have caused natural rubber prices around Asia − and in Cambodia’s local industry − to fall from a two-month high.

Future prices dipped 3.9 per cent to $2,550 per tonne last week on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, about 23 per cent lower than this year’s peak in February. …

Government officials, however, chalked up the decline to a seasonal dip that did not pose a huge threat to the local market over the long term. …

Hor Kimsay and Mak Lawrence Li
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/2013060666093/Business/cambodia-feels-drop-in-asian-rubber-prices.html

Flooded Forest Gets Protection

May 7th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

A Northeastern section of the Mekong River that is home to a number of endangered species has been designated a conservation site by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

A prakas issued by Minister Chan Sarun on April 23 officially declared a 56-kilometre section of the Mekong mainstream between Kratie and Stung Treng towns, known as the Mekong Flooded Forest, as a “management and conservation site for biodiversity and fisheries resources”. …

Kevin Ponniah
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/2013050765443/National/flooded-forest-gets-protection.html

Agriculture Contributes To Helping Cambodia’s Economic Growth: PM Hun Sen

May 4th, 2013 , The Southeast Asia Weekly

“The agriculture sector today is still playing significant role in promoting local production growth, job creation, and contributing to the poverty reduction of the people.  At the same time, the agriculture sector will continue the basic role for economic growth and socio-economic development in Cambodia in the coming decades although Cambodia has diversified her economy, including industrialization”, Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia said last week. …

“The growth in agricultural sector is not only improving our economy but also transforming the red dry land to become the green area in all seasons, as well as allowing our youths in rural area to be employed, reducing migration, and improving their livelihood.”

According to the report made by H.E Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the agriculture sector has grown in average about 4.3% in 2012, in which the rice production was about 3 million hectares, and the land of 2.98 million hectares could be cultivated, and the average yield per year in both dry and rainy seasons is 3.117 tons per hectares. …

 “We have also expected that this poverty rate will further decline to under 19% in 2013.  In the future, we will try our best to drag down the poverty rate until the elimination of the poverty through the continued development of agriculture and economic diversification.” …

To impose no land tax is like helping them right in the field. For example, they need to spend one or two hundred thousand Riel per hectare as tax. “When we do not charge tax from them, they could use the money for something else, like purchasing a bicycle for their kids or other agricultural utensils.” …

The South East Asia Weekly Staff
http://thesoutheastasiaweekly.com/?p=6134

Officials Consider Export Numbers Fishy

May 3rd, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Commerce has released figures showing Cambodia’s export of fishery goods including fresh and dried fish products have decreased drastically in the first quarter of the year, though several government officials viewed the figures with scepticism.

Cambodia exported 49.9 tonnes of fish products in the first quarter of the year a sizable drop from the 620.14 tonnes exported over the same period in 2012, the ministry’s data showed. …

Om Savath, executive director of Cambodia’s Fish Action Coalition Team, said that in general fishery production had declined this year, as the government had reduced the number of fishing lots throughout the country. …

Rann Reuy
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/2013050365392/Business/officials-consider-export-numbers-fishy.html