Phnong petition over Mondulkiri land

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

Ethnic villagers in Mondulkiri’s Pichreada district stand next to demarcation posts in 2016. The district is again the site of controversy as one hundred villagers have signed a petition to have a land concession denied. Photo supplied

One hundred Phnong ethnic people in Mondulkiri province’s Busra commune have thumbprinted a petition to reject Thieng Try Company’s request for an economic land concession to grow coffee in the area.

In the letter seen by The Post on Thursday, villagers claim the companies representatives visited the commune to introduce the project’. But landowners claimed they needed the land to live and work on and pass down to their children.

Kros Sok, a representative of the villagers, said two international companies had already gotten concessions in the area, but the local community hadn’t seen any benefits from them.

Villager Kroeung Tola, 28, said most members of the Phnong and Kroeung ethnic groups didn’t have the skills to work in offices or factories, so they relied on the land for their livelihood.

“The areas hosting investments from local and foreign companies face serious problems in terms of livelihood, emigration, losses of farmland and forests,” Tola said.

Pichreada district governor, Merl Soeun, told The Post on Thursday that he had not received information about the case. “Villagers should be happy if the company buys land from landowners in order to develop,” he said.

Sre Ampoul commune police chief To Meng said on Thursday that recently, one private company showed villagers how to grow coffee and sell their yield at market price.

“I do not know the name of that company, but a group of people came and said they were from a coffee company in our country and urged us to grow and sell it to their company.

“If we do not have enough capital or if we do not want to plant coffee, they asked us to sell or rent the land to them to set up coffee plantations,” Meng said.

He said some villagers had sold their farmland located near Busra commune, but the company has yet to clear them for coffee plantations.

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