Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday factory or hotel workers in Cambodia who have lost jobs due to the virus pandemic can take up farming because they still have parents or family members working in the agriculture sector.
He said in industrialised countries, if workers lost jobs they will find it difficult to make ends meet because their grandparents and parents had migrated from rural areas to find jobs in the industrial, commercial or service sectors.
Mr Hun Sen was speaking while visiting farmers in Takeo province’s Prey Kabbas district.
He said that during the 2008 and 2009 global economic crisis, nearly 40,000 factory workers in Cambodia had lost their jobs and returned to work with their parents who were farmers in provinces.
“Now it is the same. About 100,000 migrant workers who returned from Thailand have gone back to join the labour force in the agriculture sector,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Our factory workers who lost jobs have also returned to their home provinces, with monetary support of $40 monthly from the government, and joined their parents farming.”
“They supply the agriculture sector with more workers. Workers who lost jobs from the service and industrial sector and migrants have returned to their home provinces. We have jobs for them to do in the field of agriculture,” he added.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that Cambodia would suffer 390,000 job losses this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, more than 100,000 Cambodian migrant workers have returned to the Kingdom after Thailand decided to close its border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Agriculture Ministry spokesmen Srey Vuthy and Ngin Chhay could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Khun Tharo, a programme manager for the Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, said yesterday that in the long run, the key thing for the government to do is to create jobs within the country to provide decent and secure employment opportunities to workers who have lost jobs.
He noted that some farmers in the provinces are poor and do not have enough capital to buy seedlings and equipment to improve their livelihoods.
Tharo said he supports moves to ensure food security in Cambodia through increased small-scale farming and livestock raising.
At the event yesterday, Mr Hun Sen announced that he had ordered 2,000 rice seeding machines with his own money for distribution to farmers.
He said 1,000 small machines would be distributed to farmers in the district while 1,000 large ones would be distributed to people who do not have farmlands and can rent them out to make a living.