Monday, July 25, 2005

Cambodia keen on farming plan with Thailand

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is upbeat at the enthusiasm shown by Cambodia towards contract farming under a regional cooperation scheme to foster ties with neighbouring countries.

Contract farming under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (Acmecs) was high up on the agenda of the four-day talks between members of the two countries' agriculture ministries that ended on Wednesday.

Thailand plans to introduce contract farming in Cambodia's Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces along the Thai border. Target crops are soybean, maize, castor bean, tapioca and palm.

''Cambodia wanted to know more about contract farming and showed great interest in our proposal. We will send a team there to introduce new planting techniques to Cambodian farmers,'' Suthiporn Chirapanda, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary, said.

Acmecs, initiated by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is aimed at strengthening cooperation in tourism, agricultural and industrial development, trade and investment, regional transportation links and human resources development.

Members include Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

Under the proposed contract farming scheme, the Thai private sector will buy selected crops from Cambodian farmers which would be exempt from import tax.

''What we have planned to plant in Cambodia is crops that we usually import from other countries and has no bearing on Thai farmers,'' Mr Suthiporn said, citing maize, which Thailand imports over two million tonnes a year from overseas. The ministry's main concern now was the quality of crops that would emerge from Cambodia, which may not be up to standard, a ministry source said.

''Everything is very new for Cambodia, so we need time for them to adjust to the new system and technology. We don't want to speed up all the projects,'' the source said.

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