CASIC's 7th Steering Committee Meeting: Unveiling CA/SI Success Across Cambodia

Sustainable agriculture
The 7th Steering Committee meeting of the Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC) unfolded across three provinces—Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Pailin—from December 12 to 14, 2023. The primary purpose of this gathering was to review and showcase the significant accomplishments and pivotal milestones achieved by CASIC in the second semester of 2023.

CASIC completed its remarkable results in the second semester of 2023 based on CASIC roadmap. These fruitful achievements are from the active participation and promotion on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification of CASIC members in national and international platforms and the commitment of all the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the 10 provinces under CASIC to encourage and motivate farmers to implement Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification.

"We are working to compare between the facts of implementing conventional agriculture and conservation agriculture to see the economic efficiency. Until we obtain those facts, small holder farmers will not join in the effort to promote conservation agriculture."
Said H.E Om Kimsir, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Chair of CASIC Steering Committee

Commencing in Phnom Penh, the meeting was inaugurated with opening remarks from H.E Om Kimsir, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, who also chairs the CASIC Steering Committee. Subsequently, H.E Dr. Chan Saruth, Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, and Chair of CASIC Executive Board, presented the achievements of CASIC in the second semester, with a specific focus on initiatives aligned with CASIC's rectangular approach.

"We understand the technical work will help to engage small holder farmers in implementing conservation agriculture, but the decision to participate is theirs to make. We cannot decide on their behalf until the farmers has gained economic benefits and increased soil quality, then surely, they will involuntarily join with us."
Said, H.E Dr. Chan Saruth, Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Chair of CASIC Executive Board.

Mr. Sim Hourleang, representing the CASIC Secretariat, presented the comprehensive workplan and budget for the upcoming year, outlining the strategic direction for 2024. A critical discussion ensued, led by H.E Ngor Buthan, Rector of the Royal University of Agriculture, covering topics such as the mandate of steering committee and executive board members, expanding committee membership to include the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism, and securing cover crop support from development partners.

Transitioning to Battambang, participants embarked on a journey to witness firsthand the practical implications of agroecological practices. Visits to the Sustainable Soil for Life Association and Ta Soun Natural Farm showcased the potential and impact of sustainable farming methods. The Ta Soun Natural Farm spans 3 hectares and exemplifies diverse agroecological practices, without the use of chemical inputs in favor of a holistic approach.

The itinerary extended to Sangha(i), where participants engaged in field visits, interacting with seed producers of cover crops and exploring the Dei Meas initiative, focusing on bridging the finance gap for agroecological transitions in rice and annual rainfed crops. Conversations with local service providers and farmers provided valuable insights and perspectives.

The final leg of the journey led the delegation to Pailin town, where visits to vegetable plantations, discussions with farmers on the value chain of vegetable growing, and exploration of large-scale farmers' seed production underscored the breadth and depth of CASIC's impact.

In conclusion, the CASIC Steering Committee meeting encapsulated a comprehensive review of achievements, discussions on future strategies, and immersive field visits to reinforce the commitment to sustainable agriculture in Cambodia. The collaborative efforts of all stakeholders signal a promising trajectory for CASIC in the dynamic landscape of agroecology and sustainability.

Sustainable agriculture
Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture 
The project promotes 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.