Agriculture and Natural Resources Management
and natural resources management are key components in any poverty
reduction strategy in Cambodia. Rural Cambodians rely on a combination of
access to agricultural land, forestry resources and fisheries in order to
have a diversified and sustainable livelihood. The fair and equitable
distribution of these resources, along with their effective long-term
conservation is vital to the interests of rural Cambodian poor. There have
been some improvements but some concerns still remain.
provides employment and income opportunities for the majority of the
Cambodian population, ensures food security at the local and national
levels, and fulfills a crucial environmental role. Although there has been
a surplus in rice production at the national level in the last five years,
at the regional and household level
there are growing numbers of families that are unable to cover their
consumption needs. NGOs are concerned with two main issues: (i) the
overuse of agro-chemicals, which have negative impacts not only at the
household level but also in the national economy and the environment and
(ii) the lack of public consultation and debate about the possible
impact on small farmers of WHO membership and the Agreement
the natural resources management sector, there has been a welcome increase
in consultative processes
transparent. While NGOs and community representatives have spent much time and effort engaging in these processes, they have been discouraged when they find that major changes are made to draft legislation after the consultation is complete, thereby eliminating much of their input.
Another common concern of NGOs in the fishery and forestry sectors is the generalized perception of ordinary people as culprits instead of as agents for the protection and preservation of natural resources.
fisheries sector in Cambodia is extremely productive and has great
potential to contribute to food security and poverty reduction. However,
fisheries management suffers from governance-related issues such as:
corruption; low direct financial or economic return; no clear new laws;
poor cooperation among different government agencies and local
authorities; and no clear penalties or mechanisms for enforcement as is
the case with illegal fishing. The recent distribution of fishing lots to
local communities, while welcome, is not benefiting the poorest rural
communities. The areas were released according to their limited auction
value and not on the basis of local need. The very fast pace in which the
reforms were implemented has left a gap in terms of capacity to manage the
new community fisheries. Local authorities, military and police elements
continue to protect illegal fishing operations, bringing them in conflict
with local communities.
In the forestry sector, concerns regarding negative impacts for forest-dependent communities include: forest and land concessions that ignore guidelines for sustainable forest management continued anarchic logging extensive clearing of land for private ownership; obstacles to the transport and sale of non-timber forest products (NTFP); and lack of coordinated land use planning. In addition to participatory efforts in legislation and increasing the role of communities in managing forest and new protected areas, NGOs recommend:
Besides the need for open consultations in regulations related to the Land Law, NGOsí main concerns in the land reform process focus on the prioritization of activities to ensure pro-poor implementation. Large organizations that finance land reform programs often prefer to concentrate on land administration rather than land management and land redistribution. In the specific case of Cambodia, NGOs believe that the most important direct poverty alleviation opportunities lie in the distribution of land to rural landless families.
For further and detailed discussion of the above issues and recommendations, please see the following papers: Agriculture and Rural Development, Fisheries, Forestry Sector and Land Reform on pages 11, 30, 32 and 46 respectively.