Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon yesterday said that the Kingdom’s agriculture sector is almost 100 percent mechanized, with only a small percentage of farmers still using cattle to cultivate their land.
Issuing the ministry’s report at the close of the ministry’s annual conference, Mr Sakhon said that last year the use of cattle in the agriculture sector fell to 3.2 percent and more than 96 percent of farmers are now using machines to plough their land.
“The evolution of mechanization in the sector is improving,” he said. “Last year the use of machines to plough land reached 96.86 percent.”
Mr Sakhon also said that last year 3.34 million hectares of land were used for rice cultivation across the country, which surpassed the ministry’s target for the year.
He said 2.75 million hectares was cultivated during the rainy season and 590,000 hectares during the dry season.
“The land area used for cultivation increased by about four percent compared to 2017,” Mr Sakhon noted. “Rice production, both during the rainy and dry seasons, increased by about 1.66 percent compared to 2017.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was present at the event yesterday, said that while the increased use of mechanization in the sector was a good sign, there were also drawbacks.
“Of course we are gratified to see the growing use of machinery and a drop in the use of cattle to plough land,” he said. “But we also have to consider that the use of machines pushes up cultivation costs for farmers because they have to buy a lot of fuel.”
Mr Hun Sen said that even though the farmers are using machines to plough their land, they should keep rearing cattle to sell in the markets to supplement their incomes.
“What we are concerned about is when they stop using cattle to plough their lands, they may stop rearing them to cut feeding costs and use the money to buy fuel for their machines,” he said.
Horm Hy, a farmer in Battambang province’s Bavil district, yesterday said that almost all the farmers in the district are using tractors, instead of cattle, to plough their rice fields.
“We stopped using cattle for ploughing several years ago,” he said. “We use tractors because we can plough our land faster than when we use cattle.”
Mr Hy noted that some farmers have sold off all their cattle while some are still rearing them to earn extra income to support their families.