Oxfam supports Sustainable Agriculture Summit 2022

Transforming Cambodia’s agriculture into a resilient, dynamic and high-growth sector is essential for an inclusive food system in Cambodia. Mr. Chan SereiRatha, Country Director of the Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (CPSA), strongly believes that bringing key stakeholder together under one platform is crucial for building that momentum. This was achieved during our “Cambodia Agricultural Summit 2022” co-organized by Amru Rice, Cambodia Agricultural Cooperatives Corporation (CACC) and the Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture on the 10th February at Angkor Howard, Siem Reap. The summit was participated by 200 representatives from Agricultural Cooperatives, Banks, Microfinance, Input Suppliers, Services Providers, Agricultural Machineries, NGOs partners, Development Agencies, Donors, Agribusiness Leaders, Government Agencies and Stakeholder Representatives and supported by the EU Funded Capfish/Foster Project.

Agricultural Summit stated that transforming the country’s farming and food eco-systems is even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure strong food value chains, affordable and nutritious food, and a vibrant rural economy. The event itself is very unique in a way that promoting the balancing act between commercial benefits, people and environment where venerable Kou Sopheap and Thormek Bandit Heng Monychenda share Buddha teaching philosophy, the important of practicing middle path and giving back.

"Modernizing the country’s agricultural sector is a very important agenda for Cambodia,” said H. E. Dr. Mey Kalyan, Senior Advisor of the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC) and Chairman of the Cambodia Agricultural Cooperatives Corporation (CACC). “This country’s successful transitioned from poor to middle income status must be achieved through effective transformation of agri-food eco-systems in a responsible, ethical and inclusive manner. The Royal Government’s vision for agriculture is correct in its current thrust for diversification of high-value crops and use of modern technologies, and its effective management of food supply during the pandemic. The sensible discussions in our Agricultural Summit clearly indicates that our farmers and the agri-business sector is ensuring that we are all well-equipped to overcome the challenge of economic recovery and in positioning our economy as a relevant force for sustainable food production and vibrant food trade in both our domestic and the global market.”

“Our vision is a food-secure and resilient Cambodia with prosperous farmers and agribusiness partnering with the government,” Mr. Poeung Tryda, Director of Preah Vihear Provincial Department of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry said. “Realizing this vision will require dedicated efforts among major agri/agro industry stakeholders, led by the Ministry of Agriculture, to continuously empower agri-preneurs , and the private sector to increase agricultural productivity and profitability, taking into account sustainability, resilience and protecting its eco-system and biodiversity.”

In conclusion the Agricultural Summit 2022 has fully endorsed the Ministry of Agriculture’s “new thinking” in agricultural development, many proposal suggested shifting away from a heavy focus on specific crops towards improving the overall resilience, competitiveness, and sustainability of the agriculture sector by enabling its eco-system and protecting the bio-diversity in a responsible, ethical and inclusive manner.

Global experience shows that while ensuring the availability of key inputs remain important, reorienting significant public spending toward investments in public goods—including research and development (R&D), infrastructure, innovation systems, market information systems, and biosecurity systems—results in faster poverty reduction and greater productivity gains through an overall modernization of agriculture.

Smallholder farmers attended the Agricultural Summit 2022 cited that there remains the need for cooperatives, the agribusiness sector and the government to improve measures to enable them to better access inputs, affordable financing for investment and markets for their produce, while agribusiness enterprises and wholesalers emphasize that producers should ensure quantity and quality of produces for processing on a timely basis.

Flexible and affordable financing mechanisms are needed for upstream financing from development banks, banks/MFIs and state-owned banks that enable cooperatives and business involved in procuring and processing to buy what farmers produce would be an advantage. it gives farmers better choices and encourages private sector development in upstream (inputs and agricultural services) and downstream (processing, marketing) markets, thereby helping farmers connect to these markets and opportunities.

The Agricultural summit 2022 called for interventions through cooperative farming schemes, better extension services, e-commerce, and investments in agribusiness start-ups can further advance modernization of the agriculture sector.

“These paradigm shifts will be crucial to meet the emerging domestic and global market opportunities, while creating jobs, raising farmer incomes and ensuring the food security needs of the country and meeting the new challenges of climate change,” said Mr. Song Saran of the Cambodia Rice Federation and CEO of Amru Rice, the country’s premier organic rice exporting company. The summit advocated for more projects to help raise agricultural productivity, resiliency and access to markets of farmers in selected ancestral domains in the central and northern Cambodia communities where small scale holder farmers are at the heart. Most importantly, we want to see the focus on inclusivity, sustainability and ethical business practices through-out the value chain and at the same time promoting climate resilient seed, protecting environment and maintaining soil fertility through natural means.

Ms. Sophoan Phean, National Director of Oxfam said, “sustainable agriculture, agriculture technology, climate-smart agriculture and green financing will play a crucial role in reducing poverty and inequality in Cambodia, especially for Cambodian women who have been performing back breaking work in agriculture supply chains. We welcome the Public/Private sector collaboration at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit”.