Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
Farmer representatives, Professors, students, all participants!

Today, it is my great pleasure to preside over the “2014-2015 Stocktaking and 2015-2016 Direction Setting Conference” organized by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries”. At the outset, I wish to extend my warm welcome to Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests, Professors, Students and farmer representatives, participating in this meaningful conference.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my high appreciation to the management and all levels of civil servants of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, relevant ministries/institutions, sub-national authorities, who were striving to carry out your duties with great sense of responsibility and made a lot of achievements in agriculture sector in 2014. The two-day stocktaking conference did not only provide a chance to discuss, share ideas and provide new inputs on the works, use opportunities to learn experiences and raise challenges, but also had given an opportunity to review and evaluate the achievements that we made in previous year as well as set prioritized activities toward rapid and sustainable development of agriculture sector.

In fact, the tasks that we are undertaking will contribute to vision of Royal Government of Cambodia in integrating into ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 which focuses on four priority sectors: (1). human resource development to improve the competitiveness of our labor forces in a more open regional labor market, (2). further investment in transport infrastructures, (3). further development and enhance of value added in the agriculture sector and (4). Further strengthening the governance and institution capacity aimed to enhance the efficiency of public services and improve investment climate.

At the same time, this conference has also highlighted the achievements which are critical indicators for evaluating the performance of the agriculture sector that is specified as one of priority areas in the Rectangular Strategy- Phase III and National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018. The agriculture sector has been considered to play important role in fostering growth, reducing poverty and contributing to socio-economic development. In short, agriculture is still largely contributed to Cambodia’s economy and will continue to play a fundamental role as important driving force of economic growth and social development over the next decade in spite of Cambodia’s economic diversification. In this spirit, Cambodia must further pay high attention to this sector without any doubt.

It is worth to note that under the Win-Win strategies during the 1990s, Cambodia can achieve not only national unity, national sovereignty, territory integrity and full of peace, but also high and sustainable economic growth average economic growth rate of 7.7% per annum. Following the growth of 7.2% in 2014, Cambodia’s economy is projected to grow not less than 7% in 2015 and in the medium term.  However, we must be vigilant to ensure that our agriculture sector is still robust and resilient to external shock by making its growth of between 3% and 5% per annum.

In this context, a number of policy measures have to put in place in order to improve productivity, diversification and commercialization. In particular, the implementation of “Policy to Promote Paddy Production and Rice Export” has remarkably developed rice sector.

According to the report raised by H.E. Mr.Ouk Rabun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, even though our country experienced the natural disasters such as prolonged flood and drought occurred in early season and in the middle of the season of 2014, the agriculture sector still grew remarkably. The total rice production reached 9.32 million tons with paddy surplus of 4.7 million tons, equivalent to 3 million tons of milled rice. This is a great success for Cambodia.

This evidence reflected the great effort of Royal Government to promote agricultural production, restoration of land affected by natural disaster, improve physical infrastructure and irrigation system, ownership of farmers over their farming, organize agricultural community, improve farming and adopt high yielding seeds and so on. With the great efforts we have achieved the desired result by raising the quality of Cambodian rice over the last couple years, especially Phkar Romdoul milled rice has been recognized by international market and received an award as the World’s Best Rice three years in a row between 2012 and 2014.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appreciate the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for just releasing two new rice varieties named Phkar Romdoul Praing and Kha 14 for farmers to grow it in addition to the Damnoeb Sbai Mongkul, which was issued in 2014. Recently, I have noticed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has worked very hard in order to increase agricultural production for all types of crops, especially, the cultivation strategic crops, such as rubber and other agro-industrial crops, namely maize, cassava, pepper, soy bean, green bean, peanut, sugar cane and so on. As a result, the production of the main crops has been remarkably increased.

We are well aware that in the context of growing demand for foods and increasing population in the world, agriculture sector will play critical role in sustaining Cambodia’s economic growth. In this spirit, we have to take this opportunity to develop agriculture sector for all sub-sectors, especially to transform Cambodia to become the emerging exported agriculture country in the world. To achieve this objective, we have to improve productivity, diversify agricultural products and promote the commercialization of agricultural products, which is key priority for further developing our agriculture sector. In the spirit and as a contribution to what we have been doing to promote the development of agriculture sector, I wish to share with the management and every civil servants of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries a number of recommendations as follows:

First, our farmers have recently changed their traditional farming practices by intensifying agricultural production through the use of machinery and new technique that is required a lot of investment and labor hiring, but its yields remain relatively low, despite its production has been gradually increased. Therefore, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and all farmers nationwide have to find out new ways to increase more yields and reduce production cost as much as possible. By doing so, we are able to increase production yield, in particular paddy rice, so that it can increase farmers’ income as well.

Second, on the implementation of the Policy on Promotion of Paddy Production and Export of Milled Rice, I have noticed that although we achieved more than 4 million tons of paddy rice or equivalent to more than three million tons of milled rice, we were able to export milled rice even less than 400 thousand tons in 2014. However, if we compare the first two months of milled rice export between 2014 and 2015, the milled rice exports increase by more than 50% in 2015. Therefore, we have to further make the great efforts to implement this policy, aimed to achieve a target of milled rice export of at least one million ton as we have exported our milled rice to the foreign market of more than 60 countries. Thus, I strongly believe that all ministries/organization and all relevant actors, including private sector and development partners, in particular Cambodian farmers nationwide have actively contributed in implementing this ambitious mission. At the same time, we have to diversify seasonal crops and industrial crop with more focus on quality and sustainable quantity of the crops to improve daily livelihood of our people and proactively respond to foreign market requirement.

Third, we have to strengthen the competitive advantage in agriculture sector in order to penetrate in new regional and global market through strictly adhering to the principle of good agriculture practices, ensuring quality and safety standard of agriculture products as well as organic products and through linking it with quality control measures and certification. In this regard, we have to put measures in place to strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary mechanism at key international checkpoints in order to prevent infected disease on animal, crops and other pesticide as well as import of low quality products as we have a free flow of goods in ASEAN economic community at the end of 2015.

Fourth, taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for working closely with the People Republic of China in implementing the agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary for milled rice, cassava and maize. Next, we have to promote all types of agricultural products that Cambodia has more potential for exporting those products.

Fifth, we shall strengthen the mechanism for organizing, forming and managing all forms of farmer cooperatives to be consistent with the law on agricultural cooperative, particularly, transforming those cooperatives to small farmer alliance who can produce high quality and reliable quantity products, enabling us to participate in regional and global supply chain of agriculture products, especially participate directly in promoting agriculture production in foreign market.

Sixth, we shall explore and strengthen practical measures and mechanism on contract farming to transform this mechanism to become policy tool for linking farmers with markets or product processing, in particular in the context of agricultural production system small scale.

Seven, on Rubber sector, I have given my strong focus and observed that over the last couple years, the trend of rubber price has decreased significantly. The price of rubber reached its peak of 5,700 USD/ton in February 2011 and now dropped to 1,500 USD/ton. As a consequence, it has negatively impacted on rubber farmers’ livelihood and income of the rubber plantation companies as well. In this sense, we shall closely cooperate with and participate actively in the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries established by the Government of the 11 countries including Cambodia to explore measures for Rubber price to increase with sustainability. In this regards, Cambodia will be the director of Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries for two years from 2015-2016 and Cambodia will be the host in organizing the Meetings, Congresses and Rubber Conferences of the Association, this is the privilege for Cambodia to successfully accomplish this role and mission and to raise up Cambodia’s reputation. At the same time, we shall review the responsibility and measures of the International Council of   Trilateral Rubber, which was established by Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia since 12th December 2001 which have invited Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to solve Rubber Price issue, the encouragement of domestic Rubber consumption and the establishment of regional rubber market to strengthen the power in negotiation with Rubber purchasers.

Eight, we shall push for and encourage the investment of animal domestication in family and farm context effectively focusing on animal supplying and enough animal’s meat supply in domestic market and serves the export. In this goal, we shall accomplish main tasks such as (1) Encourage the vaccine production, animal food production by using existing raw material in the country (2) increase capacity in protecting and preventing of contagious disease of animals, contagious disease from animal to human and from human to animal effectively through all the pictures (3) strengthening the review of animal hygiene and the products made from animal, animal food, and medicines (4) cooperatively restricting more action in animal mobility and product made from illegal animal.

Ninth, we shall continue to demarcate conservation zone and artisanal fishing zone by cooperating with relevant ministries/institutions and sub-national authorities. In that, we shall pay attention to encouraging development of aquaculture in all sorts such as fresh water fish farming and sea water fish farming especially fish farming in ponds and in rice field based actual condition. Moreover, we shall encourage the establishment and the strengthening of Pond Fish Habitat Community throughout the nation because this is the means with less expense and can cause abundance of fish.

Tenth,Forestry Administration and the Fisheries Administration shall cooperate with unified commander city-province in preventing and eradicating crimes on forestry, wild life animal, and fishery effectively with the high vigilante on conservation tasks and develop with sustainability.

Eleventh: year 2014 has another reform on forestry tasks and fishery that is to include both elements into components of unified commander city-province. Therefore, sub-national authorities shall strengthen the responsibility on all issues that arise in the authority area of their own by leading research, preventing and eradicating crimes of all sorts including crimes on forestry, wildlife animals, and fishery as mentioned in Sub-decree No.156 dated 31st March 2014 on organizing and functioning of Unified Commander administration city-province-district-khan.

I strongly believe that Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, officials of all ranks of the Ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fishery, related institutions, sub-national authorities will continue to implement with high attention and with effectiveness on all tasks. The new achievements that resulted from mentioned goals in congress with the recommendations that I further added do contribute to the development of society-national economy with sustainability that push the goal of poverty reduction down to 1% per year as well as other goals that have been addressed in the goals of Cambodia Century Development and deep reforms on Agriculture sector to be ready for integration in a wider level in regional and world context.

Once again, I would like to thank the management, all officials of Ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fishery, Ministries-institutions, land authorities, army, private sectors, development partners, as well as national community and international for their efforts in actively participating with high responsibility  in supporting and developing agriculture sector in Cambodia to achieve more new success. In this occasion, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fishery, in organizing farmer congress throughout the country every year in the purpose of selecting outstanding farmers nationwide to adjust their knowledge to align with the change of technology in present condition by directing the vision to the competition both quantity and quality. This activity has demonstrated clearly of competing action of all farmers in the country and draw closer lines between technology and the farmers who receive the knowledge of technology they to put into practice to increase productivity of production and to gradually promote better living standard.

Before ending, I strongly believe that Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen and the whole congress will try mentally and physically to proactively implement the key points that has been raised here and then share the information, knowledge and experience that gained from this conference with colleagues to better adjust and achieve better performance and new achievement as addressed in the Rectangular Strategy–Phase III of the Royal Government of Cambodia to support and ensure National Economic Growth, equality, food security, poverty reduction and push the economic development in countryside in an sustainable way.

Finally, together with the closing of 2014-2015 stock-taking and 2015-2016 direction setting conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries” and in the occasion of the coming Khmer New Year, the year of Goat, 2559 BE I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen, professors, and students, farmer representatives, all compatriots and participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness, and Strength./.