Since 2004, innovative cropping systems and practices based on the principles of Conservation Agriculture (CA) and regenerative agriculture have been designed and tested in different agroecosystems of Cambodia. Results from these scientific studies showed that CA Production Systems (CAPS) improved soil fertility, reduced labor, conserved water, and increased yield and smallholder farmer’s income. However, for a sustainable change to occur in farming systems, private sector engagement was crucial.
Understanding this need of private sector engagement, from 2018 to 2020, the Mekong Inclusive Growth and Innovation Programme (MIGIP) & Conservation Agriculture Service with a Fee (CASF) project collaborated in an agricultural extension intervention called MetKasekor. This project intervention aimed to disseminate and promote the practice of regenerative agriculture in Ratanak Mondul district of Battambang province. The agricultural extension was carried out through close engagement with service providers and smallholder farmers in the target locations, as well as private companies, in order to promote the practice of regenerative agriculture. The MIGIP and CASF experience proved to be a successful and efficient model to provide extension on regenerative agriculture. Based on this success the MetKasekor model was further developed as a brand product and embedded into the government system.
“MetKasekor’’ (meaning farmers’ friend in Khmer) is an early adopter led extension service model, which focuses on ’opening the market’ for private sector investments on Sustainable Intensification via government agents and the private sector to smallholder farmers in Cambodia. It is offered by the Provincial Agriculture Department (PDAFF), managed by the Department of Extension Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF) and coordinated closely with the private sector (cover crop companies and machine providers) to expand services and products of regenerative agriculture (CA/SI) to farmers.
MetKasekor is a government resource that aims to improve the public agricultural extension service system in Cambodia and to promote appropriate technologies and extension services for a sustainable intensification of agricultural production leading to reduced negative impacts on the environment including an improved soil health that allows smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and income.
Because adoption of a new idea, product, or innovation such as MetKasekor does not happen simultaneously in a social system; rather it is a process whereby some people are more apt to adopt the innovation than others. Therefore, MetKasekor needs to be promoted by the government until the tipping point is reached. Once it reaches the tipping point, it is generally accepted that the innovation is accepted and will take off, resulting in more farmers accessing regenerative agriculture extension services primarily then delivered by the private entities.
MetKasekor needs to be fully integrated into the existing extension system of government, including provision of resources. The model is getting one step closer to this goal as the MetKasekor Steering Committee was formally established on May 10th, 2022, after the approval from H.E. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.