Kandal provincial authorities have told farmers to stop posting photos of vegetables spoiling in their fields without a market amid lockdowns as they were affecting morale, an official said.
Hor Sophal, deputy director of the Kandal department of agriculture, said his department had visited farmers in Sa’ang district on Friday. There were in fact vegetables that farmers could not find a market for due to the Covid-19 crisis and lockdowns in the major markets of Phnom Penh and Takhmao city, he said.
But the officials had told the farmers to stop posting pictures publicly because it affected the morale of other farmers and affected society, Sophal said.
“This is his second time, so we went to instruct him, and now he took note and said [he would] stop posting in public,” he said about Tai Song, one farmer who had been posting photos to Facebook.
Song has uploaded pictures about having to clear and throw away his vegetables amid the lockdown’s closure of markets.
Song told VOD that he had been pressured to sign a contract saying he would stop.
“I’m very disappointed and have nothing to say to them,” Song said. “I asked them to go take a look at the vegetables in my village, but they didn’t go to look. Hundreds of hectares of sugarcane will be plowed in the future as well, and there’s no less than thousands of tons of vegetables that they did not help to find a solution for. They just ordered me.”
“They no longer allowed me to post and use Facebook extensively. Me!” he continued. “I’m just a normal farmer. … I don’t know what they think that they ordered me like this.”
Another farmer, who gave his name only as Bunly, said several farmers had posted the photos so that authorities are aware of problems and can help find solutions.
“They came down to hide the difficulties of the farmers, so we don’t know what to say when they spoke those words. We are discouraged because we give them information so that they can help solve it, but instead they say that [our] posting is [intended] to pollute society,” he said. “There should be encouragement to farmers who are smart in urging superiors to help find a market. But they turned on us to tell us to end the sharing, and not say that there is no market. But every day, there really is no market.”
The letter Song signed says the farmer must first provide information to local authorities, not post it publicly. This is to avoid sharing incomplete information, misleading the public and undermining the efforts of officials, the letter says.
Photos showing the destruction of vegetables affect public morale and feeling, and the photos can incite discrimination, the letter says.
Incitement to discriminate is a criminal charge that applies to inciting malice or violence against a particular ethnicity, nationality, race or religion, and carries a prison term of up to three years.
Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer