The NGO Forum on Cambodia

Agricultural Policies Monitoring Project

This project

  • facilitates cooperation between NGOs/CSOs to influence agricultural policies and practices to encourage best practice for climate change adaptation on agriculture and food security to benefit farmers, especially those that are poor and vulnerable
  • boosts awareness among the Cambodian general public and network members on climate change impacts on agriculture and the need for adaptation and to ensure food security.
  • strengthens the capacity and skills of NGO network members to effectively advocate on agricultural and food security policies.

NGO Forum has assisted NGOs, government agencies and individuals to discuss climate change adaptation issues around agriculture and food security  to promote sustainable agricultural practices.

The Agricultural Policies Monitoring project collects information on local strategies, indigenous knowledge and best practice to cope with floods, droughts, and works on ways to fine tune them and disseminate them. The project also organizes workshops aimed at strengthening the knowledge on agricultural and food security policies monitoring with other key stakeholders in collaboration with MAFF, MoWRAM and CARD.

In the period 2012–2014 the project is focusing more on awareness raising, capacity building, network strengthening and advocacy dialogue on issues including the draft law on pesticide and fertilizer management, the contract farming sub-decree, rice export policy, Strategy for Agriculture and Water (SAW), Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition in Cambodia (2008-2012) and national water resources policy. 

Climate change threatens food supplies and livelihoods

Eighty percent of the rural population is engaged in rain-dependent subsistence agriculture. With limited land under irrigation and limited water management infrastructure, farmers are particularly vulnerable to changes in rainfall patterns.

Women often suffer the most as they are often poorer, have less access to resources and services, are victims of gendered division of labour, have less decision-making power and liberty of migration, low visibility, face violence in disaster/conflicts, and inadequate attention for their reproductive and sexual health. For climate change adaptation strategies to be effective and sustainable, there must be space for women to participate in strategy development.

Gender mainstreaming is part of the Agricultural Policies Monitoring project – gender issues are incorporated into the project’s planning and implementation.

What needs to happen?

Adverse impacts to the water resources are the main climate change risk in Cambodia. There is no evidence yet of integration of climate change adaptation concerns into national water strategies, policies, plans and programs. There is a lack of understanding of potential climate change impacts at a national, sub-national and community, among the general public and across departments at CARD, MAFF, MOWRAM and MRD.

At the local level, to adapt to climate change farmers need to:

  • broaden their crop base
  • use new cultivation techniques and crop varieties with different thermal/temperature requirements
  • use water more efficiently
  • seek improved natural resistance to pests and diseases
  • adopt sustainable practices such as shifting sowing/planting dates and using cover crops and live mulch
  • reduce the vulnerability of soil through managing soil fertility, reducing tillage and managing the cycle of soil organic carbon more efficiently in grasslands and cropping systems.

There will be a need to monitor pathogens and pests and assess how well natural pest control is working. Climate change may bring new insect and other pests. At the moment, many farmers also use dangerous chemical pesticides and fertilizers in ignorance of their potential threat to human/animal health and the environment.

The NSDP Update 2009–2013 addresses some of these concerns, including the improvement of rice varieties so that they are more resistant to drought, flood, and insect pests, and looking at water resources and irrigation system management in the areas of flood and drought.

Government policy

The government sets out its agriculture policy in the Rectangular Strategy: “To improve agricultural productivity and diversification, thereby enabling the agriculture sector to serve as the dynamic driving force for economic growth and poverty reduction.”

Key elements of the agricultural development policy draw on the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDG) 2003, the Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP-II) 2001–2005 and the National Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS) 2003–2005.

To ensure the provision of sufficient water for improving agricultural production and productivity, the government has set these priority policies:

  • provide enough water for farmers within the limits of available water resources and technology
  • promote the rehabilitation and construction of irrigation, drainage, and flood management infrastructure to provide sufficient water for agricultural production and to alleviate the adverse consequences of excess water
  • promote the development and extension of appropriate water management technologies in rain-fed agricultural areas
  • strengthen and expand participation in Farmer Water User Communities to manage and maintain irrigation infrastructure with electiveness and sustainability
  • minimise the impact of agricultural chemicals on water resources by encouraging people to diversify agricultural production.

A good management system allows the right incentives to be passed onto water users.

Climate change should be increasingly considered as a developmental issue and not just an environmental one.

History and past achievements

The Pesticides Reduction Network in Cambodia (PRN_C) was established in 1999. In 2012, PRN-C was changed to Network for Development Food security and safety in Cambodia (NDF-C). The network was changed by agreement and discussion by network members in network reflections. The Agriculture Policies Monitoring project decided to respond to focus on climate change adaptation to ensure food security and policy monitoring for sustainable agriculture.

In 2010, NGO Forum coordinated with NGO members the PRN-C network to conduct the 1st National Farmer Forum and No Pesticide Use Day. Activities included role plays, a consultation workshop and a television debate. During Cambodia’s Environment Week, in cooperation with GERES, NGO Forum contributed an exhibition and role play to educate about agricultural emissions, climate change, adaptation and mitigation.

In 2011 and 2012, NGO Forum coordinated with NGOs to organize a 2nd national farmer forum on climate change adaptation, conducted research, organized a radio talk show on the impact of pesticides and climate change, collected and documented and shared good practice and lessons learnt on climate change. News alerts and an agriculture bulletin were produced.

Agricultural Policies monitoring project