Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cambodian farmers adopting climate-smart rice and technologies

by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 28 July—Cambodian farmers are steadily adopting new climate-smart rice varieties and associated technologies. This was revealed during the annual review and planning workshop of the project, Accelerating the Adoption of Stress-tolerant Rice Varieties by Smallholder Farmers in Nepal and Cambodia (ASTV), attracting around 75 participants (photo above).

The review and planning of the Cambodian phase of the ASTV project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), took place the day after an observance of the 30-year partnership between the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Representing the Cambodian government during the ASTV project review were H.E. Secretary of State Ty Sokhun and Deputy Director General Mak Soeun, on behalf of H.E. So Khan Rithykun, director general for the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA).

“I am pleased that the ASTV project is focusing on developing and deploying high-yielding, stress-tolerant varieties to increase farm productivity and resilience to climate change,” said Sokhun. He also commended the strengthening of the local seed systems in Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, and Pursat provinces in the Tonle Sap Region under the Feed the Future (FtF) Program. FtF is a global hunger and food security initiative of the U.S. Government.

“IRRI is committed and engaged with the Cambodian Government to improve the rice sector and the well-being of Cambodian rice farmers,” said Matthew Morell, IRRI director general. He highlighted the impact in South Asia of recently IRRI-developed stress-tolerant varieties, which are now being delivered for evaluation and commercial use in Cambodia “We will ensure these varieties are made available to those who need them the most,” assured Morell.

An overview of the project’s progress in Cambodia was presented by Dr. Uch Chantol, IRRI ASTV scientist in Cambodia, and Dr. Uma Shankar Singh, ASTV project coordinator in Nepal and IRRI representative for India and Nepal.

Plans and activities for 2016-17 were reviewed after partners presented updates on their activities during the first year. Reports on rice-based management systems for stress-tolerant rice in Cambodia, geographic information system (GIS), baseline and market studies, and monitoring and evaluation progress were presented by IRRI scientists Yoichi Kato, Nasreen Khan, Alice Laborte, and Srey Sinath, respectively.

Activity reports were also presented by Director Ngin Chhay, Directorate for Rice Crops under the GDA, the Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) in the four provinces; and by Mr. Seang Lay Heng, deputy head, Plant Breeding Division, on behalf of Director Ouk Makara of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).

The occasion was also graced by Dr. Sang Lee, USAID Mission representative to Cambodia. Lee took part in the workshop along with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, GDA, CARDI, PDA offices, seed companies, and development agencies.

L-R: Dir. Ngin Chhay, Acting GDA DG Mak Soeun, and IRRI
scientists,Abdel Ismail, Umesh Singh, and Uch Chantol.
Abdelbagi Ismail, the overall ASTV project leader, thanked the participants from Cambodia, Nepal, and IRRI for successfully implementing the project. He was also pleased to announce that GDA has agreed to provide the IRRI-Cambodia office with more office space in the newly renovated GDA Building in Phnom Penh (photo at right). 

Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships, and Ngin Chhay, DRC director, lauded the strong partnership between IRRI and Cambodia and how the two are working together for the benefit of farmers and rice industry. Likewise, Mr. Julian Lapitan, IRRI consultant, thanked and acknowledged the active and immediate response of the institute’s Cambodian partners.

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