This consultative meeting sensitized the different departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFFs), the private sector and other relevant stakeholders and to discuss the opportunities for transformation of agricultural extension services as part of a new era for digitalization. Over 35 people, representing different key technical and provincial departments of MAFF, private companies, and development partners were in attendance of the event.
H.E. Dr. Chan Saruth, who serves as MAFF Undersecretary of State, and the Chair of the Executive Board of Cambodia Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC) gave the welcome speech where he remarked “There are 3 pillars for agriculture extension in Cambodia, 1) extension through training, 2) extension through public media, and 3) extension through publication.” He added that “In order to achieve and sustain the 3 pillars, a collaboration with private sector partners and development partners is a must.”
Dr. Seng Vang, Director of Department of Agriculture Land Resources Management (DARLM), showcased Cambodia’s decade long history on research on Conservation Agriculture, which eventually resulted in the formation of the MetKasekor model, along with the timeline, milestone, and lessons learnt throughout the process. He said “…The Ministry and its technical departments have conducted extensive research studies on the applications of Conservation Agriculture in different agriculture landscapes across Cambodia since 2004. We have tested and validated the agriculture technologies and machineries to ensure they are feasible for our farmers. However, we still need a proper mechanism to effectively promote these new knowledge and technologies as well...”
Mr. Ngin Kosal, Director of Department of Agricultural Engineering (DAEng), presented various Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI) technologies and machineries which are mandatory for the implementation of MetKasekor to the attendees. These include the land levelers, roller crimpers, no-till planters, cover crop seeds, etc.
Taking this opportunity, he further emphasized the importance of the engagement of the private sector in the MetKasekor model. He said that “Private companies who commercially provide technologies such as machinery and cover crops are crucial actors to ensure that farmers have a larger and sustained access to enhanced technologies. The same is true for service providers. I believe a concrete mechanism to link between the national and provincial government agencies, farmer cooperatives, and service providers will be established through MetKasekor.”
Agriculture extension service is a much-needed function that the Royal Government of Cambodia needs to improve on. Dr. Mao Minea, Director of the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF) mentioned that the Ministry currently faces the lack of human resource capacity in providing updated knowledge and technology exposure among rural farmers. He envisions MetKasekor as a tool to resolve this challenge in synergy with Cambodia’s agriculture extension policy.
In the same event Mr. Heng Choulong, Chief of DEAFF’s Agricultural Information Technology Service System Office, added that “Currently MAFF will be piloting MetKasekor model for Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI) practices in two provinces. Yet, we see the potential of this model beyond CA/SI. In fact, the lessons from the pilot can be integrated as a part of the Public Innovative Agriculture Extension framework for Cambodia sustainable agriculture sector in the future.”
An opportunity to host dialogues on MetKasekor through a platform such as Food Systems Summit marks an important milestone for the MetKasekor model. The event concluded with a short discussion session on the MetKasekor model whereby participants provided their insights and recommended potential feedback in taking up the model into the field.
MetKasekor is an innovative extension model. MetKasekor focuses on opening the market for private sector investments. The model is a government resource for the future with the intention to improve the public agricultural extension service system in Cambodia.
MetKasekor is a result of more than ten years of dedicated work on research on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI) in Cambodia and extension service models. The model will be piloted in a few provinces in Cambodia by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). MetKasekor is being led by the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF) and coordinated by the Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management (DALRM) and the Department of Agricultural Engineering (DAEng).
The model is promoted and supported by Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) of Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) of Kansas State University (KSU), CIRAD, and Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA) of Swisscontact.
Some private sector partners that are engaged in the piloting of the model include Larano, an agriculture machinery manufacturer; SmartAgro, a cover crop seed producer; Neourn, a local machinery manufacturer; and AMK Microfinance Institution. The operation handbook, training documents have been finalized and will be used while piloting the model. The core implementor under the Metkasekor model is the Provincial Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFFs) in partnership with the private sector.
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