New and sustainable agriculture technologies and practices in Cambodia promoted by MetKasekor Model

Sustainable agriculture
The MetKasekor Agriculture Extension Model – an innovative approach aiming at promoting new and sustainable agriculture technologies and practices among early-adopter farmers – launched a pilot for Battambang & Preah Vihear Provinces during the MetKasekor Annual Meeting 2021.

On 27 December 2021, a Signing Ceremony and Annual Meeting 2021 for MetKasekor model was organized by Department of Extension Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF), General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to officially kick-start the pilot of the model in two provinces in Cambodia, namely Battambang and Preah Vihear.

MetKasekor is an innovative extension model aiming at promoting new and sustainable agriculture technologies and practices among early-adopter farmers by opening the market for private sector to invest in the technologies.

As part of Royal Government of Cambodia’s agriculture strategy, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) puts priority in shifting Cambodia’s agriculture from traditional practice into enhanced sustainable intensification by integrating innovative technologies and machinery into existing cropping systems.

“The promotion of appropriate technologies is utterly important to ensure better agriculture modernization with active participation from stakeholders at all levels including the government, development partners, private sector, and especially farmers. In this process, an effective extension model is needed; therefore, we came up with MetKasekor model,” said H.E. Dr. Chan Saruth, Undersecretary of State of MAFF and Chair, Executive Board of Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC), during the ceremony.

During the event, Dr. Mao Minea, Director of Department of Extension Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF), expressed his preparedness toward the implementation of MetKasekor. “DEAFF is open to new ideas and is prepared to utilize this extension model to bring more information, access to technologies, new practices and innovative solutions to our farmers, said Dr. Minea. “We are positive that our efforts will increase the adoption of modern practices, which ultimately bring improvement livelihood of our farmers.”

MetKasekor is being led by the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF) and coordinated by the Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management (DALRM) and the Department of Agricultural Engineering (DAEng). Swisscontact through Innovation of Sustainable Agriculture (ISA) with other development partners Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) of Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) of Kansas State University (KSU), and CIRAD support MetKasekor implementation with an emphasis on technologies related to Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI) production systems.

Mr. Rajiv Pradhan, Country Director of Swisscontact in Cambodia, expressed that MetKasekor is designed to answer the need of Cambodia for a well-structured public-private extension service in a long run. “MetKasekor is an open-the-market model that is not limited to Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI), but also can be suitable for any new technology for sustainable agriculture.

Mr. Heng Chulong, Head of Agriculture Information Technology Office of DEAFF, presented the details about the model during the event. The model’s operation handbook, training documents, database information technology platform, and other promotional tools have been developed and will be used while piloting the model.

Currently, the private sector partners that are engaged in the piloting of the model include Larano, an agriculture machinery manufacturer; SmartAgro, a cover crop seed producer; Noeurn, a local machinery manufacturer; and AMK Microfinance Institution; all of which see the potential of investments in the adoption of Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CA/SI) in Cambodia.

Mr Ream Soveth, project officer of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture project of Swisscontact, briefly presented the progress of MetKasekor work in 2021. Although, MetKasekor has not officially started, Conservation Agriculture Service Center (CASC) of the Department of Agriculture Land Resources Management, CIRAD, CE SAIN, Swisscontact, WAT4CAM (a project supported by AFD) along with private sector partners promoted conservation agriculture using the steps of the MetKasekor model and has great success. In 2021, more than 1,000 farmers are practicing CA, 21 CA equipment had been sold and more than 17 tons of cover crop was produced and sold.

Two issues discussed intensly

After the presentation, two important issues were raised during the discussion session. The first issue was about the limited access to no-till planters. For this issue, many solutions were given by the participants, but most notably was the proposed solution of HE. Dr. Chan Saruth. His Excellency proposed 3 solutions; a) the first was to be flexible about the planters that should be promoted. He mentioned that if the Brazilian planters are too expensive, we need to investigate other options from China, India and the local one that was designed by the ASMC project; b) secondly, he proposed that there should be an after-sale service in place to support the service providers on maintenance and spare-parts; and c) lastly, His Excellency proposed that MetKasekor should provide a guaranteed system for the farmer who are transitioning from conventional tilling practices toward CA. Similar to what Conservation Agriculture Service Center (CASC) had done with farmer who allow CASC to conduct demonstration plot on land, he proposed that MetKasekor should do a similar guaranteed system, where farmers in the MetKasekor model share 50% each if the application of CA techniques does not improve production compared to previous years.

For the second issue regarding accessibility of cover crop, all the participants agreed that cover crop price is very high for the farmers to transition. However, the participants also felt that it would take 2-3 years of application of the cover crop to make the difference and for the farmers to be able to pay for the cover crop price.  Hence other solutions such as carbon credit, SRP or GAP certificates could provide the add-on cash incentive during the transition and beyond. This will help the farmers to buy cover crop seeds at full cost.

The event was attended by 40 participants representing the PDAFFs, Departments of Land Resources Management, Department of Agriculture Engineering, Department of Extension Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, CARDI, NGOs and the private sector.  The PDAFFs in Battambang and Preah Vihear will pilot the MetKasekor model from January 2022 to December 2024. An interactive ICT dashboard on the model will be used to collect the data and showcase the results.

2021 - 2024
Sustainable agriculture
Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture 
The project promotes appropriate technologies and extension services for a sustainable intensification of agricultural production leading to reduced negative impacts on the environment including an improved soil health that allows smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and income.