ELC earnings underwhelm

April 21st, 2015 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Cambodian government earned about $80 million leasing economic land concessions and forests to private companies over the last three years, according to a report from the Ministry of Economy and Finance released last week.

The January report, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, found that the ELC system, which is managed by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries (MAFF), faced significant challenges such as low revenues collected from rental fees and a lack of proper implementation from both ministries. …

May Kunmakara
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/elc-earnings-underwhelm

Timber by the numbers

April 7th, 2015 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia’s foremost logging baron exported more than 100,000 cubic metres of timber from Sihanoukville Port last year, likely including a species protected by an international treaty to which the Kingdom is a signatory, an analysis by Global Witness of leaked export records suggests.

The data, obtained by the Post from a source in the transportation industry, show the Try Pheap Group exported an estimated 107,832 cubic metres of timber via the port, an amount the London-based NGO said could be worth between $55 million and $123 million, based on documents it obtained as part of an investigation last year. …

Documents obtained at the port during the group’s 8-month investigation included export licences for $5.6 million worth of timber headed for the Hong Kong-based Kin Chung Transportation, which is listed as having a capital shareholding of only HK$2 ($0.25) and an address registered to a residential building in the administrative region. …

Daniel Pye
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/timber-numbers

NGO: Data shows ‘wholesale sell-off’

March 31st, 2015 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia should urgently disclose all information about land ownership and rethink its “wholesale sell-off” of the country’s natural resources, a local rights group said yesterday.

The call to release information about Cambodia’s land sector, including a declaration of revenues, came as Licadho released an analysis of concessions showing that three-fifths of all of Cambodia’s arable land is under the control of mostly foreign-owned plantation firms.

The data, which exclude land allocated for mining exploration, shows that 2.14 million hectares have been leased to private firms since the government announced its forest “conversion” policy in the early 2000s and began to issue economic land concessions (ELCs). …

Daniel Pye and Pech Sotheary
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/ngo-data-shows-wholesale-sell

NGO Global Witness hits back at ministry

February 12th, 2015 , The Phnom Penh Post

The government’s apparent unwillingness to take seriously evidence of continued large-scale illegal logging orchestrated by the Try Pheap Group is “disappointing”, Global Witness said yesterday.

A report released last week by the UK-based group titled The Cost of Luxury detailed evidence, collected during an eight-month covert investigation in Cambodia and Hong Kong, which suggested that tycoon Try Pheap sat at the helm of a multimillion-dollar timber smuggling network. …

Daniel Pye
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/ngo-global-witness-hits-back-ministry

Claims by Global Witness rejected

February 10th, 2015 , The Phnom Penh Post

Minister of Agriculture Ouk Rabun yesterday dismissed allegations of large-scale illegal timber smuggling by the Try Pheap Group published in a report by UK-based corruption monitor Global Witness last week.

Global Witness’s report, The Cost of Luxury, identified Pheap, a prominent tycoon and former adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, as the head of an elaborate timber smuggling network that illegally felled and collected trees before shipping them to China to fuel the demand for ornate hongmu furniture. …

Pech Sotheary
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/claims-global-witness-rejected

Farmers hope for rubber fix

October 22nd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia’s small rubber farmers are hoping a commitment to stabilise prices among rubber producing countries will help curb sliding profits in the sector.

Industry representatives from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and other rubber producing countries met in Malaysia last week to discuss what can be done to stem the fall of rubber prices.

According to an October 15 report from Reuters, the rubber producing nations agreed to urge their members not to sell rubber below $1.50 a kilogram.​ …

Hor Kimsay and Daniel de Carteret
http://phnompenhpost.com/business/farmers-hope-rubber-fix

Cassava farmers plead for gov’t help

August 6th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cassava farmers are calling on the government to standardise prices and help stabilise demand as the market for the root crop continues to prove risky for growers.

Cassava exports totalled 226,000 tonnes in the first six months of the year, down 21 per cent from a year ago, yet earnings for the cassava-export market rose 20 per cent in the same period, reaching $18 million. …

Chan Muyhong
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/cassava-farmers-plead-gov%E2%80%99t-help

Illegal fishing battle heats up

July 21st, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

When authorities in Kampong Chhnang province on Friday encountered and pursued the boat of alleged illegal fisherman Chieb Ou, they couldn’t have expected to find themselves being chased instead.

But that’s precisely what happened when, rather than surrendering, the 42-year-old suspect turned his boat towards the pursuing officers and attempted to ram their vessel, deputy provincial fisheries chief Seng Bun Chhern said.

The authorities were forced to flee to safety, eventually returning with 12 men in five boats to take Ou into custody for allegedly fishing with banned electric equipment. …

Sen David
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/illegal-fishing-battle-heats

Fine dining ups bird count

July 21st, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Over the past six months, 19 “vulture restaurants” have led to a slight rise in the number of the birds spotted in Cambodia, according to a recent Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report.

Contrary to the name’s sound, the vultures aren’t the dish being served but the diners being fed: Conservations lay out cow carcasses stripped of the hide and take cover nearby to document and photograph the birds. The 204 carnivores counted during feasts over the past six months is just slightly higher than the count estimated in last year’s annual report. …

Phak Seangly
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/fine-dining-ups-bird-count