Phnom Penh, December 04, 2014: The Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) in the Council of Ministers, in partnership with The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) and CSOs/NGO partners, organised the The 5th National Farmers’ Forum, with the theme “Together to Empower Smallholder Farmers towards Market Oriented Interventions and Climate Resilience in Agriculture”. The two-day annual national workshop, which was held from December 4 to 5 at the Institution of Technology of Cambodia (ITC Cambodia) was attended by approximately 550 participants, from senate members, parliamentarians, , , diplomats, farmers’ representatives, donors, development partners, and provincial authorities from 25 cities/provinces. The significant objectives of this event were:
- To share and reflect on the achievements of the Cambodian government, civil society farmers, and the private sector as raised in the 4th National Farmers’ Forum
- To enhance farmers’ participation through the sharing of local ideas, experience, and challenges
- To discuss the implementation of the Food Security and Nutrition Strategic Plan(2014-2018) and policies, in particular, those on agricultural product markets to improve and empower small landholders,
- To strengthen collaboration and good relations between CSOs, farmers, the private sector and the government at both national and sub-national levels through the development of joint action plans
“The 5th National Farmers’ Forum was an effective mechanism for relevant stakeholders to understand and have discussion to find effective solutions. It is also an opportunity to establish co-operation among all relevant stakeholders to respond to the issue of market access for agricultural products and agriculture techniques to help resilience to climate change,” said Mr. Tek Vannara, NGOF’s Executive Director. “The forum also contributes to national policies related to food security, nutrition and policies on the market access r agricultural products, so that this will improve the lives of smallholder farmers.” he added.
The many problems facing smallholder farmers include marketing, market access farmers’ knowledge and technology in production, infrastructure, irrigation networks, capital, and access to commercial credit for investment in agriculture, can all make life difficult for farmers. In addition Cambodia’s membership of ASEAN in 2015 will put pressure on Cambodian farmers while Climate Change adversely affects food production.
“Nowadays, the challenges that the farmers face include economic land concession, market for agricultural products, instability of the price of agricultural products, crop damage caused by climate change and a lack of irrigation systems. These issues have affected the livelihood small holder farmers who are rely heavily on agriculture. As a representative of Cambodian farmers I would like to call for support from the government to help us in coping with the issues that we are not able to manage such as with the impact of Climate Change, ensuring markets for agricultural products, providing technical support in agriculture, building small-scale irrigation systems, supporting and establishing agriculture community and facilitating loan with low interest rate for farmers to invest in agriculture,” Mr. Ourn Phal, farmer representative from Kampot province, stated during the archivement and challenges presentation .
During the event, there were many group discussions on vitally important topics such as the achievements from the previous forum, the discussion about the partnership opportunities between all relevant partners over market oriented intervention, and climate resilience in agriculture, and finally the creation of next year’s action plan. There was also an exhibition of various products from the CSOs/NGOs and farmers from 25 cities/provinces. The display also included publications on vital research topics about Cambodian issues, including the agriculture of different regions in the country organic fruits, and vegetables and the use of technology in agriculture.
The annual forum was officially opened by H. E. Sun Kuntho, the Minister of Prime Minister delegation and closed under the honorable of H.E Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister, the chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development.
During the closing remark, H.E Yim Chhay Ly had pointed out that the government has paid much attention on the impacts of climate change and food security among smallholder farmers through: (1) improved capacity building, (2) infrastructure development, and (3) markets for agricultural products. Additionally, the government planned to export 1 million tons of rice to foreign market by 2015.
The 5th National Farmer Forum organized by CARD in partnership with The NGO Forum, Caritas Cambodia, OXFAM in Cambodia, DCA/CA , CAFOD, People in Need, World Vision Cambodia; Action Aid, Life with Dignity, CEDAC, CRS, Finn Church Aid, AVSF, UNDP, and ADG.