CASIC's International Workshop on Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture Marks Success in Cambodia 

Sustainable agriculture
Siem Reap, Cambodia - CASIC's Transitioning Towards Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture: A Contribution to Food Systems Transformation (TARASA23) was successfully concluded on October 27th, 2023.

This landmark event, aimed at addressing pressing challenges within global agriculture and food systems, was skillfully hosted by the Cambodia Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). Swisscontact along with its partners are grateful to CASIC for allowing us to co-organize this important event.

"Transitioning towards agroecology and regenerative agriculture demands policy changes that incentivize and reward sustainable farming practices while ensuring equitable access to resources for all farmers."
H.E. Om Kimsir, Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

TARASA23 brought together a prestigious assembly of experts, stakeholders, and dignitaries from across the globe. This international workshop is the culmination of CASIC's ongoing commitment to promoting sustainable agricultural practices in Cambodia. The event series began in 2019 with the Regional Training on Appropriate Scale Mechanization for Conservation Agriculture, and it has evolved to tackle various dimensions crucial to agricultural sustainability.

"Agroecology is a good answer for many challenges we are facing nowadays because of climate change, intensive agriculture, and intensive use of fertilizer."
H.E. Jacques Pellet, French Ambassador to Cambodia

This year's TARASA23 was co-organized in collaboration with esteemed partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), the Agroecology and Safe Food System Transition (ASSET) project, Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA) project, Swisscontact, 4 per 1000 initiative, Agroecology Coalition, and Operationalising the International Research Consortium on Soil Carbon (ORCaSa). The event was generously sponsored by institutions including the French Development Agency (AFD), The Embassy of France in Cambodia, The French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), the European Commission, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The event received further support from Eurocham Cambodia, World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), and Agroecology in Southeast Asia (ASEA).

"Future TARASAs can be the place for the various Agroecology Coalition Focal Points and other champions in the region to share experience and lessons learned, to interact and to coordinate efforts towards food systems transformation through agroecology in the Asia-Pacific region."
Mr. Oliver Oliveros, Agroecology Coalition 

TARASA23 was graced by the presence of distinguished guests including the First Lady Pich Chanmony who observed the innovation fair. The list of distinguished guests also included His Excellency Jacques Pellet, French Ambassador to Cambodia, Markus Buerli, Director of Cooperation of SDC, Ms. Rebekkah Bell, Representative, FAO, Prof. Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and currently the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights , and Dr. Pablo Titonell, Senior associate researcher at the French International Cooperation Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CIRAD) and CGIAR International Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (CoSAI) Commissioner. These eminent dignitaries lent their insights and expertise to the discussions held during the event, which was attended by over 200 participants from 21 countries and 95 institutions.  Over 20 institutions displayed their work in the innovation fair organized during TARASA.

This groundbreaking event provided a space for the actors who play roles in Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture, including the public and private sector as well as the farmer representative to discuss the opportunities and challenges to transition to Agroecology. It discussed about the draft roadmap for an ASEAN Agroecology coalition chapter, discussing a policy dialogue, empowering collaboration, and cultivating stronger partnerships within the Asia Pacific region and beyond. TARASA23 stands as a pivotal moment in the advancement of agroecology, providing essential outcomes that will foster the transition towards more sustainable agriculture, food security and safety in the Asia Pacific region and globally.

"When farmers work with conservation agriculture and regenerative agriculture, they will increase soil fertility by adding organic matter to the soil. By adding organic matter, the soil fertility will increase, yield will increase, and farmers will have higher incomes. "
Mr. Markus Buerli, Director of Cooperation and Development Counselor of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Cambodia

The central theme of TARASA23, "Transitioning Towards Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture," underscores the pressing need to address environmental, climate, and health challenges within current agricultural and food systems. The combined efforts of CASIC and its esteemed partners promise to be a significant milestone in advancing sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, paving the way for a more resilient and ecologically responsible future in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Some of the ideas for future TARASA events that were mentioned at the closing were 

a) TARASA could be event for the various National Focal Points of Agroecology Coalition and other champions (including AE coalition member organizations) in Asia Pacific region to interact, coordinate and share experience/lessons learned; 

b) rotate the venue of the meeting in alignment with ASEAN presidency (e.g., Lao PDR ASEAN Presidency in 2024) to generate ownership and further visibility, while exploring how better connection and linkage with ASEAN can be made in the coming years (working with/through LICA); and, 

c) build on CASIC leadership in the programme design of the content of the event with host country can be the co-lead in programme design, working with some regional partners identified.

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.