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

Companies regrow ‘forests’

July 10th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

More than 100,000 hectares of forest have been replanted across the country since 2008, according to a government report – but about 90 per cent of that amount can be chalked up to private plantations.

Produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the report, obtained yesterday, claims that rather than forest cover decreasing – as monitoring groups and media outlets regularly report – it has increased, largely due to private companies’ industrial planting schemes.

Since 2008, 104,377 hectares were reforested, with a vast majority of about 93,000 hectares attributed to private companies planting trees such as acacia and palms, which spur “economic growth”, according to Thorn Saret, director of the administration department at the Agriculture Ministry. …

May Titthara
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/companies-regrow-%E2%80%98forests%E2%80%99

As fish stocks vanish, locals flout law to survive

July 9th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Khan Thea, a subsistence fisherman who lives and works along this sprawling, 7,000-hectare lake fed by the Mekong River, was not having a good day on the water.

Struggling to net even a single fish, he finally resorted to a dangerous—and illegal—technique: fishing with electric current. …

Prime Minister Hun Sen abolished Cambodia’s system of commercial fishing lots in 2012, a major policy change intended to conserve fish stocks and give local subsistence fishermen a better shot at making a living.

But more than two years after the cancellation of the lots, which covered some 270,000 hectares of fish-rich areas, local villagers and fisheries experts say that little has improved for the fishermen who ply their nets here.

Meas Nee, former chairman of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), an NGO that advocates against illegal fishing, said the abolition of private lots was a necessary step, but the handover of the lots to community fisheries groups was not well planned. Now, there are even more illegal fishermen depleting fish stocks than there were before, according to Mr. Nee. …

Phorn Bopha and Alex Consiglio
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/as-fish-stocks%E2%80%88vanish-locals-flout-law-to-survive-63567/

Cambodia’s fisheries production rises 6.7 pct in 2013

July 1st, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ouk Rabun said Tuesday that Cambodia’s fisheries production rose 6.7 percent from a year earlier to 728,000 tonnes last year.

Speaking at a National Fish Day ceremony at Kdol Reservoir in Peam commune in Samaki Meanchey district in Kampong Chhnang province, Ouk Rabun said 528,000 tonnes came from freshwater fisheries and 110,000 tonnes from marine fisheries. …

The Cambodia Herald News Staff
http://thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=13&token=NDdkYzhiNTdlYzQ

Gov’t called on to save forests

May 21st, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Villagers from forest communities in nine provinces called on the government yesterday to take action after alleging that “the rich and powerful” are causing the “serious destruction” of their livelihoods.

The villagers, with the support of two NGOs – the Children’s Development Association and Community Peace-Building Networking (CPN) – raised concerns over the destruction of their forests, which they said were being cleared by a combination of powerful local businesses, soldiers and the authorities.

Sorn Siyan, a community representative from Kratie province, said that seven community forests out of 11 registered since 2011, covering more than 21,000 hectares, have been completely cleared. …

Phak Seangly
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/gov%E2%80%99t-called-save-forests

Illegal wood exports to China tripled in 2013

May 13th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Cambodia’s exports of protected rosewood and other high-value timber to China more than tripled last year, according to U.N. figures cited in a new report that blames lax law enforcement across the Mekong region and skyrocketing demand in China for pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

The trade can be deadly. At least 33 Cambodians were shot dead by Thai security forces while searching for the lucrative lumber across the border last year alone, according to rights group Adhoc. The illicit cross-border trade cost 45 Cambodians their lives the year before.

In a report released Monday, “Routes of Extinction: The corruption and violence destroying Siamese rosewood in the Mekong,” the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) blames the illicit trade mostly on China’s love for Hongmu, its word for a type of high-end furniture and the species of wood used to make it. …

Of the 3.5 million cubic meters of Hongmu timber China imported between 2000 and 2013, nearly half came from Cambodia and the rest of the Mekong region, according to the EIA’s analysis of U.N. trade data.

According to the data, Cambodia’s exports of rosewood and other Hongmu species more than tripled between 2012 and 2013 from 6,800 cubic meters to 20,700 cubic meters, the highest figure on record for the country since 2000. …

Cambodia’s 2002 Forestry Law strictly prohibits the logging of rare tree species, including rosewood. In 2013, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive outlawing not just the logging of rosewood, but its transport and sale as well. He also urged countries still importing the wood to act to stem demand.

That same year, Cambodia joined 176 other countries party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to give Siamese rosewood Appendix II protection. That means all international trade of the species must now be accompanied by a specific export license. …

The CITES website lists Cambodia’s “management authority” for the convention as Ty Sokhun, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Mr. Sokhun declined to speak. His assistant referred questions on rosewood exports to Forestry Administration chief Chheng Kim Sun, who also declined to speak. …

EIA cites a $3.4 million deal Cambodian timber tycoon Try Pheap inked with the government for 5,000 cubic meters of illegally logged wood seized by authorities last year. In the country’s northeast, it is an open secret among loggers and rights groups that Mr. Pheap’s loaded trucks make constant trips into nearby Vietnam. …

Zsombor Peter
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/illegal-wood-exports-to-china-tripled-in-2013-58593/

Logging a resource issue, says official

May 13th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

A forestry official with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) who is usually tight-lipped acknowledged last week that his agency has struggled to combat illegal logging, blaming a shortage of manpower and entrenched opportunistic logging by villagers – explanations that were laughed off in some quarters yesterday.

In an interview last Tuesday at the Forests Asia Summit, organised by the Center for International Forestry Research in Jakarta, MAFF Secretary of State Ty Sokhun also played down accusations that authorities are slow to respond to – and are even the targets of – complaints of illegal logging,

The real difficulty in fighting logging, he continued, was that the forests simply covered too much ground for his roughly 1,000 “forest experts” to patrol. …

Sokhun maintained that measures to help villagers make money from forests would encourage them to turn from logging to conservation, but Ouch Leng, director of the Cambodian Human Rights Task Force, said that it was actually the villagers who were leading the fight against illegal loggers in spite of government inaction. …

Opposition lawmaker-elect Son Chhay was quick to agree, blaming mass logging on large-scale operations, and calling Sokhun’s assertion that officials were quick to respond to reports of illegal logging “completely rubbish”. …

May Titthara and Stuart White
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/logging-resource-issue-says-official

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