The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft on Tuesday rejected the Salt Producers Community of Kampot-Kep’s (SPCKK’s) proposal to dissolve, saying it needed more time to figure out the issues facing the industry, its spokesman Oum Sotha said.
The decision was made during a meeting on Monday between the minister, Cham Prasidh, and relevant parties in the salt industry.
SPCKK last week sent a dissolution request letter to the ministry due to disunity among local producers.
At the meeting, the ministry decided not to allow the community’s dissolution, Sotha said.
“We opened the discussion at the meeting to hear all the challenges from salt producers and the salt community. We are now gathering all the issues and will create a working team to further investigate and see the reality of the farmers’ issues.
“First of all, we do not agree to dissolve the salt community and [it] has to wait to hear of a solution from us,” he said.
Sotha said the community operates under the ministry and it could not simply decide for itself.
SPCKK co-director Bun Baraing said the community respects the ministry’s decision.
“We don’t want to dissolve either since we have made some achievements over the past 15 years. We are now waiting to see the result,” he said.
The salt community was created in 2009 and has five-year mandates. It controls more than 4,600ha of salt fields across Kampot and Kep provinces belonging to some 200 families.
Exclusive rights impossible
However, Baraing proposed that the ministry provide it with exclusive salt importing rights to supply the local market in order to “control the volume of salt imports to meet market demand shortages”.
“We do not want to see salt imports exceeding demand as that will hurt local producers, who will suffer due to [falling] prices,” he said.
However, the ministry said while the Kingdom is adopting a free market policy, exclusive rights to import any goods is impossible.
“We are a free market, everyone has the right to export and import. We cannot block the market or approve any exclusive market, we have to be ready for market competition,” he said.
Koeng Sunthean, a salt producer with 16ha of land in Kampot province who did not wish to see the salt community dissolved, said having a community will help stabilise prices for farmers as well as provide financial assistance.
“It could be an issue among the management team if some members cannot request for financial assistance as much as they can while the market is down,” he said.
“Even though we face issues, I still hope that the ministry will find a solution.”