Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cambodia Celebrates World Day to Combat Desertification

By Soy Sophea

Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on May 17 celebrated the World Day to Combat Desertification, joining with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The World Day this year focuses on Combating Land Degradation for Sustainable Agriculture.

According to a press release issued on June 17 by UNDP, the theme of the World Day was in line with the Government’s efforts to increase agricultural productivity. Rice production makes up the majority of Cambodia’s agricultural sector. Its agricultural land has increased annually from 448,780 in 2002 to 2,585,905 hectares at present. In 2007, the average rice yield was 2.621 tons per hectare. However, the press release stated that land degradation was a serious issue in Cambodia where the majority of the population lives in rural areas and relies on natural resources for their livelihoods.

The World Day to Combat Desertification falls on June 17 and is part of an international campaign by the United Nations to tackle global environmental deterioration. The World Day aims at raising public awareness on land degradation. The event was attended by government officials, diplomats, UN representatives, representatives of non-governmental organizations and students.

“Land degradation is a global threat having a direct impact on the most vulnerable populations, in particular poor farmers…the challenge is in the protection of the environment as efficiently as possible through the sustainable exploitation of natural resources while paying attention to agricultural productivity at the same time,” the press release quoted Sophie Baranes, UNDP Deputy Country Director as saying.

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