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Minister warns of drought, land degradation

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Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon. Agriculture Ministry

Minister warns of drought, land degradation

At a conference entitled Sustainable production and use of food, animal feed and fibre, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said deforestation, unhealthy environmental practices and climate change has led to a decrease in land quality.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the conference in Rohas commune’s Kampot village, in Rovieng district, Preah Vihear province, which was held in conjunction with the World Day to Combat Land Degradation and Drought 2020.

Cambodia became a signatory to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification on October 15, 1994.

Sakhon said the poor land quality has damaged the economic viability of the agriculture sector.

He said he is obliged to cooperate with the world in carrying out the activities stipulated in the convention with the primary aim of preserving the environment, biodiversity and natural resources.

“Land is a part of human life, animals and plants. Agricultural development and sustainable practices ensure food security, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation,” Sakhon said.

He said the current global population growth has led to a higher demand for agricultural land. Food, animal feed and fibre production has increased up to 70 per cent and is benefitting the lives of more than 250 million people, he said.

The severe effects of the slowdown in economic growth and the decline in social and environmental activities, he said, are caused by the decline in land quality.

“To ensure the well-being of the land, which is an indispensable agricultural resource, all stakeholders, especially farmers and agricultural businesspeople, must come together to solve the problem, he said.

Sokhon said this could be done effectively through scientific research, reforestation to prevent erosion of topsoil quality, reducing climate change, conserving biodiversity, reducing the use of pesticide and fertilisers and reducing mining.

Preah Vihear provincial governor Prak Sovann said land quality can be ensured by diversifying agriculture and increasing productivity on farmland.

He said farmers, agriculture businesspeople and related authorities throughout the province are cooperating on food production to increase quantity and quality to ensure local supply demands are met and exports can remain viable.

Sovann called on the private sector to study the potential for agricultural investment in the province to expand production for domestic supply and export.

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