Each year Members of The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) organize Farmer Forum in order to discuss on progress, challenge, and ways forward. This year is the 10th Farmer Forum. The objectives of the Farmer Forum are:
1. Promoting and encouragement of processing of agricultural products of medium and smallholder farmers in order to prevent product quality from damages (promoting handling of agricultural products at post-harvest time);
2. Linkages of private sector, government agencies, and relevant stakeholders in promoting markets and processing of agricultural products of medium and smallholder farmers in order to prevent product quality from damages;
3. Reactivate implementations of relevant policies to provide opportunities to medium and smallholder farmers in supplying their agricultural and processed products on markets.
On 23 November 2021, there were seven people in the chairmanship of the forum with the opening speech provided by H.E. Son Senghourt, under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation (MISTI); and closing speech provided by Oknha Song Saroan, Head of Cambodia Rice Federation and Executive Director of Amru Rice Company. There were 175 (69 females) participants attended the forum, both in-person and online.
Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of NGOF
Having paid respects to the chairpersons, the Monk, and specific respect to H.E. Son Senghourt, Oknha Mong Rithy, representative from the Ministry of Commerce, representative from National Agricultural Institute of Prek Leap, and all the participants, Dr. Vannara expressed his pride of being as the key organizer of the forum. He indicated that there were 34 NGOs supported the forum; and thanked all of the supports.
Dr. Vannara stated that he was proud of seeing 175 (69 females) participants attended the forum either in person or online. He informed that the forum have concrete three (03) objectives, as shown on the point number I above. He, also, thanked all organizer committees, who had organized the three subnational forums prior to the national forum today. He noticed to the participants that inputs from the three subnational forums brought to the national forum for further discussion and recommendations.
Dr. Vannara emphasized that agriculture should be equipped with modernized technology including the digital revolution 4.0. He encouraged farmers to increase their agricultural products for better family and national economy; and could be further processing them for export.
Before ending his key note, Dr. Vannara believed that relevant stakeholders will together provide inputs for the successes of medium and smallholder farmers. He, also, expected that Oknha Song Saroan, Head of Cambodia Rice Federation and Executive Director of Amru Rice Company would provide more on best practices during his closing speech later of the day. He thanked all the participants, Monk, and the delegates from key ministries for their active participation in the forum; and wished them all with success in all tasks.
Ms. Yan Srey Yat, Representative of Outstanding Women Farmer
Ms. Srey Yat was emotionally enthusiastic for he playing role on behalf of the Outstanding Women Farmers invited to the 10th forum of medium and smallholder farmers. She paid respects to all the chairpersons, the Monk and participants. She underlined that all the participants representing different ministries and agencies were to together discuss for better processing products of medium and smallholder farmers in Cambodia.
Ms. Srey Yat applauded Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) on the outcomes made for the last years like technical supports and financial support such as creation of Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (ARDB). However, there are some remaining issues that she requested to be solved.
Mrs. Phean Sophorn, Executive Director of Oxfam Cambodia
On behalf of Oxfam Cambodia, provided her key notes as main points detailed as following:
• The Farmer Forum on medium and smallholder farmers has been held since 2000 in order to together help farmers solve agricultural challenges and promoting their processing products,
• She believed that the forum could create opportunities for stakeholders to discuss problems and share experiences,
• Oxfam Cambodia has been actively involved, technically and financially, since 2016,
• Oxfam Cambodia has been closely working with private sector and RGC on enhancement of woman participation in agriculture. However, men are needed to involve in the program for success of engagement. At the very crucial same level, RGC is needed to improve policy implementation,
• In the context of Covid 19 era, she has seen that agriculture sector has been high potential for family and national economy. Therefore, policy supports from the RGC is the must,
• Your participation today is to provide inputs on improvement of agricultural products of medium and smallholder farmers for future implementation. Another word, we all together for our economy.
Opening Speech by H.E. Son Senghourt, Under Secretariat of State, Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation
H.E. Senghourt underlined that in the context of 4.0 digital revolution all of us shall build capacity of human resources including medium and smallholder farmers and relevant people. He claimed that Cambodian economy increased 2% in 2021 and maybe up to 4% or higher in 2022. With obeying to guidelines of the Ministry of Health, he urged farmers to continue to develop agricultural products for better own economy and the national economy.
His Excellency proudly announced that with the efforts of the RGC, about 90% of 16 million Cambodians have been vaccinated. He stressed that the MISTI has the roles of helping medium and smallholder farmers in processing their agricultural products. He encouraged all the participants to search for helps on the website of the MISTI; and the website is providing commercial advertisement for free of charge. Therefore, all medium and smallholder farmers are welcome to post their products on the website. He agreed with the previous speakers mentioning that agricultural sector has been good potential during the pandemic disease era. In addition, Cambodian agriculture sector has been improved from year to year.
However, processing products have been low quality such as cassava and cashew nut, each of these products has been processed only about 14% each year. Cashew nut produced about 208 metric tons annually, while cassava produced up to 11 million tons each year, he stated.
H.E. announced that processed agricultural products have higher price than unprocessed ones. He gave examples of higher prices of processed products of Thailand and Vietnam compared to the Cambodian ones. He further encouraged that in order to be able to process the agricultural products, relevant stakeholders should be trained; and all of them should be actively participated. For instance, when the status of Covid-19 will be better safe, importing countries would demand the processed products, so, the relevant Cambodian stakeholders in processing of agricultural products should be ready by then, he underlined. Your processed products should also be safe and high quality for users like five-star hotels and super markets, he emphasized.
H.E mentioned that under vision of Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodia would completely lift the country from Covid-19 restriction soon in order to welcome tourist and other economic activities. He stressed, again, on behalf of Excellency Cham Prasidh, he was proud of being invited to the forum; he wished all the successes to participants and the 10th forum to run smoothly; and declared the forum opened from now on.
WRAP UP RESULTS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CLOSING SPEECH
Ms. Nara Nou Aliny, Executive Director of Sre Khmer NGO, and Representative of Agricultural Group of Civil Society Organization
Mr. Aliny respected all the chairpersons and participants before reading her summary results of the firum (Annex 6). Her key 4 recommendation points are:
• Honesty of all stakeholders in implementation of AC, agricultural product and purchasing;
• Keep promoting agricultural products;
• Keep working and networking with relevant stakeholders;
• Continue to build capacity, knowledge, and productions.
Closing Speech by: Oknha Song Saroan, Head of Cambodia Rice Federation and Executive Director of Amru Rice Company
After paying respects and acknowledge of key representatives, Mr. Oknha Saroan, admired all efforts of the participants for the last day of active working. He thanked to the previous speakers, specifically Ms. Aliny, who had just read the summary of the results of the forum of the 10th Medium and Smallholder Farmer Forum. He highly valued the forum that was organized to provide opportunity to relevant stakeholders to discuss challenges, lessons learned and sharing ideas during the pandemic disease of Covid-19. First of all, he suggested that Cambodia should have “National Farmer Day” in order to promote medium and smallholder farmers. He, also, congratulated all the 150 AC presented in the forum.
He agreed with the summary reported results that RGC have made lots of progresses in agricultural sector and processing modality. He emphasized that the only we can success when we work together among all relevant key stakeholders. Mr. Oknha, then, shared his experiences and suggestions as following:
• Encouragement to continue to hold the Farmer Forum;
• Relevant stakeholders should continue to work together even though facing some problems;
• Factories for processing agricultural products of medium and smallholder farmers should be provided;
• Investment in processing of agricultural products should be increased;
• Capitals for medium and smallholder farmers should be increased;
• Local markets for medium and smallholder farmers should be established in local sites;
• Continue to provide up to date technology to medium and smallholder farmers;
• Strengthening power of medium and smallholder farmers.
In his closing speech, Mr. Oknha Saroan suggested that the “National Farmer Day” should be created in order to promote awareness-raising on medium and smallholder farmers. He further contributed his personal experiences on business. If middlemen and companies have more money than AC, why the AC themselves do not becoming their business into larger scale like the middlemen and companies, he asked? In other words, farmers should join together to become entrepreneurs for better business. If so, the farmers should be actively learning and updating, he suggested. He also stated that gain and loss is always happened in business. For instance, he said, tens of thousands of agricultural commodities have remained in his company stores for more than a year now because of the Covid-19; all shipment stopped. However, he claimed that soon his agricultural commodities would be in circulation because the RGC will open the country soon.