Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday urged the public to grow fruits and vegetables organically as these are healthier alternatives to crops grown using agrochemicals.
Mr Hun Sen posted on his Facebook page that the Kingdom’s land was fertile and suitable for growing fruits and vegetables without having to use chemical-based fertilisers which are harmful to people’s health.
“In the past few days, I posted pictures of vegetable crops around my house which are not for show but for consumption,” he noted. “I would like to urge and encourage citizens to grow vegetables for consumption around their houses because the fertile soil of our country is very favorable for agricultural crops.”
Chheng Ly, a 32-year-old farmer in Siem Reap who grows organic vegetables, yesterday said she supports Mr Hun Sen’s call because organic crops and vegetables are safe for both growers and consumers,
She noted that growing crops organically will also reduce the cost of buying fertilizers or chemicals.
“If we plant vegetables on a large scale we will have to spend a lot on chemicals,” Ms Ly said. “If we do organic farming we only need to use compost from plants and animal manure.”
She noted that although naturally-grown fruits and vegetables do not look as good or fresh as those grown using chemicals they are safer to consume.
“Some buyers only look for vegetables that appear fresh and look good,” Ms Ly said. “When they see our vegetables, they are not interested in buying them.”
In March, agricultural researchers also appealed to farmers to reduce the use of agrochemicals on their crops to avoid impacts on human health, animals and the environment.
They noted that they found that some farmers have used improperly mixed chemicals leading to high toxicity.
Phat Chanvorleak, a researcher from Institute of Technology of Cambodia, said agrochemicals have a serious effect on human health, animals and the environment and farmers should avoid or reduce their use and instead switch to using natural pesticides.
“When we consume agriculture products tainted with chemical wastes, one can expect effects such as dizziness, diarrhoea, vomiting and it can even cause death,” Ms Chanvorleak said. “Long term effects can include cancer.”
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry reported last year that Cambodia spends between $150 million and $200 million annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China to meet domestic demand.