Government Rolls Out New Agriculture Policy

The Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday released a draft policy to strengthen the agriculture sector by educating farmers on how to gain greater access to markets and increase their productivity by using sustainable farming methods.

The Agriculture Extension Policy, drafted in cooperation with USAID, aims to address low productivity among small-holding farming families—who on average farm about 2 hectares—through disseminating knowledge via television and radio programs coupled with field demonstrations.

The policy’s objective is to “improve the effectiveness and efficiency of access to new agricultural knowledge, information and technologies by farmers and farming communities for enhancing agricultural productivity by promoting diversification, commercialization and sustainable natural resource management.”

One strategy will be to conduct programs and activities in each district in collaboration with agricultural researchers, NGOs, banks and the private sector.

So Khan Rithy Kun, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s general directorate of agriculture, said he hopes the policy will consolidate efforts of various organizations working in the agriculture sector.

“Agricultural extension services provided by the government agencies have been limited due to lack of human resources and agricultural materials at all levels, inadequate investment in agricultural extension and lack of appropriate technologies,” he said.

Accounting for 27.5 percent of gross domestic product, agriculture is the primary source of income for 80 percent of Cambodia’s population. The government’s “rectangular strategy” for developing the economy includes agriculture as one of four major areas that need improvement, alongside infrastructure, private sector development and a skilled workforce.

Independent agriculture analyst Srey Chanthy said the policy would benefit farmers by giving them hands-on training in their fields. But he said implementation would be crucial.

“The success or failure of the policy depends on human resources, institutional partnership and financial ability because after we have the policy, we need to have the programs to implement it,” Mr. Chanthy said.

“For example, the public sector creates policy and regulations to control the enforcement of these, while the private sector provides services. These two stakeholders must not do the same jobs.”

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