Prime Minister Hun Sen warned private companies, ministers and the next generation of leaders alike that the land of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) is sacrosanct, and cannot be exchanged.

CARDI was established by the prime minister in 1999. Overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, it acts as a body for agricultural research.

Speaking at March 24 annual meeting of the agriculture ministry, Hun Sen made it clear that its land is unavailable for exchange, regardless of the circumstances.

“Understand this clearly. No one can touch CARDI land. At least 20 large, successful companies have floated the idea of exchanging their own land for CARDI property so they can develop it,” he said.

“I told them that they must until I pass on, but warned them that even after I die, I will continue to curse this land. CARDI is like a child to me. I want all private companies and enterprises that request land exchanges with CARDI to understand that it will not be allowed to happen,” he added.

He explained that the legacy of the CARDI was long and well respected, especially when it came to new rice varieties.