On 21 May, 2020, HE Minister Veng Sakhon, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), through a decision letter, has formally approved the formation of the Cambodia Conservation Agriculture Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC). This decision is a turning point to foster the dissemination of conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification practices to restore and preserve agricultural soils in Cambodia, advancing in farm sustainability and contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) initiatives in Cambodia have been focused primarily on cropping system design, soil fertility assessment, agricultural engineering, rather than commercial practices. In recent years, commercial practices have been promoted in this area. The formation of CASIC will further augment the current work by bringing together other stakeholders and to make CA more accessible to farmers through the market actors offering the services.
Following the decision letter from HE Minister, a 2-day CASIC internal kick-off launch was held in Bos Khnor, Kampong Cham, and Siem Reap from 3 to 4 June 2020 in order to: 1) introduce CASIC and the delivery mechanisms to the steering committee and executive board members; 2) provide information on conservation agriculture in Cambodia and CASIC structure and management to all participants; 3) provide recommendations and suggestions; and, 4) to identify collaboration opportunities with development partners to enhance conservation agriculture in Cambodia.
In the meeting, HE Om Kimsir, MAFF Secretary of State and Chair of the Steering Committee of CASIC mentioned that CASIC is a key arena to raise awareness of the importance of CA at national level and among private sectors. He also noted that the presence of CASIC steering committee and executive board members was significant in strengthening solidarity and cooperation, in prioritizing action plans towards the realization of CASIC. He expected that, through CASIC and other agencies, Cambodia can contribute significantly to climate change adaptation and mitigation, a common concern of the world today and in the future. HE Dr. Chan Saruth, MAFF Undersecretary of State and Chair of the Executive Board of CASIC, spoke about the role of CASIC to pool together relevant stakeholders including market actors to address soil restoration issues, to enhance adaptation and mitigation to climate change while ensuring the alignment with the national policies. He further elaborated on the delivery mechanism including CASIC structure and management. He stressed that CASIC is a coordinating body. All participants agreed that CASIC is a movement rather than an institution promoting CA in Cambodia.
CASIC is a multi-stakeholder consortium that will consist of organizations who have the incentives to come together and meet on a regular basis to discuss the promotion of CA/SI practices in Cambodia via the four committees, namely a) Knowledge Management led by the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), b) Networking and Collaboration led by Swisscontact, c) Research led by the Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management (DALRM) in close collaboration with the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD); and, d) Promotion led by Swisscontact.
CASIC has the vision to be a well-established platform with a vast network of organizations that are working on the CA issues in Cambodia, e.g. markets, research, policies, service provision. The mission of CASIC is to establish knowledge management of CA related resources for easy access by smallholder farmers, semi-commercial farmers, and agricultural cooperatives; create an enabling environment to boost investment in CA/SI; promote and enhance CA/SI practices and enhance collaboration between stakeholders.
Five ministries, namely the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MOWRAM), Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), Ministry of Interior (MoI), Ministry of Environment (MOE), and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce are involved at the CASIC Steering Committee.
CASIC is a result of the untiring efforts of the various organizations who are also represented on the executive board, namely, Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management/GDA, Department of Agricultural Engineering/GDA, CIRAD, Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) of the Royal University of Agriculture, Swisscontact, and Kansas State University.
CASIC will be embarking upon its strategic plan in the coming months and will be launching the initiatives in the midst of the stakeholders.