Held last May 2019, the course was the first of a series of training programs facilitated by the IRRI Education Center and the Philippine Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), with a focus on developing standards, maintaining varietal purity, and modernizing the seed industry.
Initiated through “Accelerating the adoption of stress-tolerant rice varieties for smallholder farmers in Cambodia, Phase II (ASTVII)”, an IRRI project funded by USAID, this system of rice seed certification will enhance the development of seed quality standards in Cambodia.
In Wet Season 2019, trained and selected seed producers were provided with foundation seeds and made to prepare for the pilot field inspection and certification.
IRRI Cambodia together with the Department of Rice Crop, GDA organized field inspections and certification for five seed producer groups, namely Kandal Chamreunphal Agricultural Cooperative in Pursat, Trapeang Reussei Agricultural Cooperative and Sakream Choukchey Seed Group in Kampong Thom, Kouk Thlork Krom Meanchey in Siem Reap, and Chrey Samaki Bangkeunphal in Battambang Province.
In October and November, Dr. Benny Andaya from DA-BPI mentored the inspectors and producers on actual field crop inspections in the four provinces, and also on sample scooping in warehouses for sending materials to the National Agriculture Laboratory (NAL) in Phnom Penh.
A total of 151 participants including officials from the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the Department of Rice Crop, GDA, and heads of agricultural cooperatives joined.
By December, seed samples were received and laboratory seed inspectors were able to perform their first germination, varietal and purity tests, and moisture content determination on rice seed samples for certification. Ms. Elalin Torio, a seed quality certification specialist also from DA-BPI, was a resource person for the week-long laboratory training and inspection process.
Twenty participants from NAL and the Department of Rice Crop, GDA attended the theory and practicum training. In addition, valuable inputs on sample recording and tracking, equipment needed, systematizing operations, and organizing the laboratory was also facilitated.
NAL Cambodia is preparing to be a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) to also meet standards for other seeds.