JMAS adds agricultural support to aid farmers

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JMAS experts demonstrate to CMAC staff how to neutralise an MK82 bomb in Kampong Thom. Photo supplied

As well as its vital demining activities, the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) in Cambodia is now providing farmers with improved farming techniques and building systems to supply water.

The Japan Mine Action Service in Cambodia (JMAS), which has been spearheading demining activities in the Kingdom for the past two decades – clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) including anti-personnel and anti-tank mines – is now extending further humanitarian assistance.

“From this year, JMAS will begin providing agricultural support in addition to its demining and infrastructure-building activities by providing local farmers with improved farming techniques and building reservoirs for supplying water during the dry season.

“JMAS will continue with its many activities turning minefields into beautiful green farmland in order to bring smiles to people in Cambodia,” JMAS resident representative Suenaga Noriyoshi told The Post.

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JMAS resident representative Suenaga Noriyoshi. Photo supplied

The organisation continues to turn once dangerous minefields into fertile farmland to lift up the economic conditions of rural communities, with land once plagued with dreaded explosive remnants of war (EWA) in Kampong Thom, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces transformed with the help of Japanese-led demining experts.

JMAS is an international non-governmental organisation comprising former officers and non-commissioned officers of the Japan Self-Defence Forces.

It began its mine-clearing activities in Cambodia in 2002, partnering with the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC). This year marks the 20th anniversary of its demining operations in the Kingdom.

As of September 2020, JMAS experts have cleared 4,100 hectares of minefields, removing more than 20,000 anti-personnel mines and 650 anti-tank mines, as well as 39,000 units of other UXO, and responded to 37,000 requests from residents to dispose of mines and EWA found around the areas they live.

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A brush cutter machine (top) and an anti-tank mine (above). Photo supplied

“We transfer mine clearance techniques to CMAC and provide education about the dangers of UXO to local people and children. We also build roads and schools to support local communities.

“We have constructed 11 schools and built more than 80km of roads in and around former minefields. JMAS currently operates two demining projects in Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom provinces, while another project involves the rebuilding of basic infrastructure in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

“Twenty-five JMAS staff including seven Japanese and around 100 deminers from CMAC are involved in this project.

JMAS deploys various machines for demining activities such as demining machines, cluster machines and brush cutters, which are supported by human deminers.

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JMAS and CMAC experts discuss demining operations in Kampong Thom province. Photo supplied

“Our activities are much more productive by integrating machine power and human deminers,” said Suenaga.

While the organisation currently has the capacity to clear some 200 hectares of mine-affected areas, it has set a target this year of demining 400 hectares, he added.

“We want to help Cambodia remove the mines and other unexploded ordnance that remain threats to people’s lives and to see Cambodians live peacefully free of deadly explosive remnants of war,” said Suenaga.

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CMAC staff promote awareness of the dangers of UXO among children. Photo supplied

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JMAS and CMAC experts discuss demining operations in Kampong Thom province. Photo supplied