Thursday, June 18, 2015

USAID-ASTV tackles challenges in promotion and adoption of new rice seeds in Cambodia

by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar

Rice production significantly contributes to Cambodia’s national food security and poverty alleviation, according to Agricultural Development and Climate Change: The Case of Cambodia. However, several factors are keeping Cambodia’s rice yield the lowest in the region. Majority of lowland farmers grow only a single crop annually since they are dependent on rainfall. The increasingly erratic rainfall in recent years due to climate change has also adversely affected the country’s crop production. In addition, most farmers still rely on traditional agricultural practices and seeds.

The various concerns on seed and modern technologies were discussed during the inception workshop of the Accelerating the Adoption of Stress-tolerant Rice Varieties by Smallholder Farmers in Nepal and Cambodia (USAID-ASTV) project. USAID-ASTV, a USAID-funded project, seeks to reduce poverty and hunger as well as increase food security and income of poor farm households.

Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and project leader, presented the systematic implementation of USAID-ASTV as 1) varietal evaluation and release; 2) seed production and distribution; 3) GIS and targeting; 4) monitoring and evaluation; 5) baseline, market studies and impacts; and 6) policy support to adoption of stress-tolerant rice varieties.

Stakeholders also discussed challenges in achieving the project’s goal through the provision and distribution of high-yielding rice varieties tolerant of abiotic stresses:
  • Conducting a study on market demand of varieties to be promoted by the project. 
  • Developing seed quality control and producers of foundation and certified seeds capable of supplying demand within the project and beyond. 
  • Creating a strategy for promoting new rice seeds and the adoption of new technologies by farmers.
A workplan for each group was drafted and the final version will serve as the guiding document for the strategic implementation of the project.

The inception and planning workshop for USAID-ASTV was held on 8-9 June in Phnom Penh. H.E. So Khan Rithykun, director general of Cambodia’s General Directorate of Agriculture, and Dr. Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships graced the closing of the event.

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