Cambodian gov't urged to invest more in agricultural sector [-Hun Sen rather sells agricultural lands to Gulf countries instead?]
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- A well-known expert has called on the Cambodian government to devote more resources to the rural sector in efforts to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday.
While the tourism and garment sectors continue to struggle for access to international markets during the slowdown, Cambodia's agricultural sector holds the best hope of weathering the crisis, Kang Chandararot, president of the Cambodian Institute for Development Study, was quoted by the English-language daily newspaper as saying.
"We face a difficult situation, but the government should use most of the (nearly) 1 billion U.S. dollars of donor aid to develop our rural areas as a top priority," he said.
Greater improvements in rural development would cut poverty and reduce dependence on loans from banks or microfinance institutions, he said.
"While direct loans from banks and microfinance institutions provide necessary support, aid through the rural development and agriculture ministries should be used to modernize our agricultural methods," he said.
Such aid should be used to renovate Cambodia's aging water systems, find new seedlings and fertilizers, and improve rural markets, he said.
Cambodia used to be the major rice and some other rural products exporter in the region but years of war has made it lag behind Thailand and Vietnam in the past decades.
Currently, garment, tourism and infrastructure are the pillar industries of the kingdom.