Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon has asked that the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh initiate a study programme for Cambodian students, while also suggesting closer cooperation in a new scheme slated to introduce new rice varieties by late 2022.
Sakhon made the requests during his August 11 meeting with Australian ambassador Pablo Kang at the ministry, where they discussed cooperative agricultural work.
“I hope that the new Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Resilience Economic Development (CAP-RED) will help boost Cambodia’s agriculture sector,” Sakhon said.
Sakhon also requested that the ambassador support cooperation with private firms – at home and abroad – for distribution of the new rice varieties, which had been introduced by the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
The minister thanked the government and people of Australia for helping to boost agriculture and for making the once rice-short Kingdom a rice surplus country which exported high-quality milled rice to international markets. Cambodia had just been ranked No1 in the world for its excellent rice for the third year in a row, he added.
Kang said the two countries had cooperated to support the development of agriculture through Australian financial and technical assistance. They had increased production and productivity through developing and distributing quality seeds, training in new land management techniques and the innovative, sustainable use of nutritional markers, through the Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain Programme (CAVAC).
“The results achieved by CAVAC have made a significant contribution to building and developing Cambodian agricultural value chains. CAVAC will end on August 15.
Sakhon requested that the Australian government continue to develop agriculture in Cambodia through other projects.
According to an Australian embassy report, Australia has since 2010 invested $92 million to improve rice productivity, irrigation for smallholder farmers and agriculture diversification in Cambodia. The programme has helped alleviate rural poverty, substantially increased farmer’s incomes and helped the agriculture sector become more commercially viable and competitive.
The report said that although CAVAC will officially come to a close this year, it is not the end of Australian’s commitment to Cambodian agriculture. The CAP-RED programme will continue supporting Cambodia’s economic recovery and resilience ambitions in regard to agriculture/agro-processing, trade and investment, infrastructure, and gender and social inclusion.