Agriculture reform draft laws on hold

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Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday weighed in on a draft agricultural land law which has led to farmer protests and calls for it to be dropped because it will affect their livelihoods.

His comments led to the draft law being put on hold.

On Tuesday, the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Communities held a conference in Phnom Penh during which it heavily criticised the law, which has been in the works since 2010.

The coalition said the law would affect small-scale producers and that some articles in the draft were unclear.

Farmers say the draft law creates greater burdens on the management and use of agricultural land by small-scale family farmers and indigenous people.

The draft law also provides greater power to agricultural land agencies to monitor and take legal action against farmers involved in agricultural production, they say.

Mr Hun Sen yesterday said that Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon must review whether the law is even necessary and drop it if it is not absolutely needed.

“If it is not necessary, do not waste time making it,” Mr Hun Sen said. “The Minister of Agriculture please study this urgently.”

Mr Sakhon had responded to Tuesday’s conference by saying the draft law could not be dropped, but could be amended prior to its implementation. Theng Savoeun, general secretary of the coalition, said he was pleased that the Prime Minster had taken note of farmers’ concerns.

“The coalition is pleased to cooperate with relevant ministries and institutions in discussing solutions to various issues affecting farmers,” he said.

Mr Sakhon yesterday said that he had taken the Prime Minister’s comments into account and had ordered the suspension of consultations on the draft law.

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