Cambodia experts contribute to the drafting of Regional Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management

National expert group discussed issues of soil and nutrient management in Cambodia emphasizing adoption of good practices for current soil problems in contribution to the development of the ASEAN Regional Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management.

The consultative meeting in Phnom Penh jointly organized by the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and GIZ through ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) project brought together 35 national participants from NGOs, public and private sectors to exchange their experiences on practical management of soil constraints, soil fertility, cropping system, and relevant law, regulations, and directives in Cambodia. The information would be submitted to ASEAN Expert Group for drafting the ASEAN Regional Guidelines (GLs) on Soil and Nutrient Management (SNM).

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There is an alarming call for ASEAN to formulate a specific set of regionally coordinated policy recommendations in addressing soil degradation problems and encouraging and supporting productive use of agricultural crop lands to secure agrifood system in the region. In recent years, more attention has been given by ASEAN to an integrated approach to tackle soil degradation in the context of the environmental, economic and livelihood and against a background of harsh climate change, globalization and demographic shifts within the region. Such an approach involves policy development, legislation and regulation, and the application of comprehensive and coordinated measures to stabilize and remediate soil degradation.

ASEAN SAS supports the ASEAN member states (AMS) in formulating ASEAN Regional GLs on SNM. The development of the GLs is designed as a policy framework tool to create enabling condition for AMS for the promotion of sustainable food production at the national level.

Deputy General of GDA, Mr. Sron Sokhom who said during his opening remarks that the ASEAN economic integration that came to effect in December 2015 allowed combining effort among the member states to work together for improved food and nutrition security, and the results of the meeting should be valuable inputs for developing the GLs.

In Cambodia, rice farming is a major production which occupies around 3 million hectare equalling 80 percent of total agricultural land and 20 percent of national territory.

Mr. Tim Thon, representative from GDA told that the Cambodian royal government defined soil as a key factor to improve agricultural productivity. It is required to have better knowledge on the management of soil resources, especially farmer or extension works should be able to identify and analyse their soil type and its fertility before transplanting.

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He furthered that in Cambodia deforestation for crop cultivation is observed in slopping land areas. As a consequence, high surface runoff takes place resulting in soil lose and nutrient depletion. In farmer fields where cultivate monoculture such as maize cultivation in North provinces, farmer practice also causes soil loss and water runoff, and soil degradation.

At present improper use of fertilizer and/or pesticide is widely observed, and soon to be a major issue occurring – in southeast of Cambodia, however he stated that Cambodia is one of its neighboring countries that consume lowest chemical fertilizer (N,P,K).

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Mr. Thon highlighted that GDA would focus on the law drafting on agricultural soil management, designing of a map for cropping (Geography Crop Identification), increase of production and price of agricultural products, and development of irrigation system.

ASEAN Regional GLs contents are developed through regional and national consultations. The ASEAN Expert Group on SNM is responsible for writing contents of the GLs with support from national working groups in AMS. The Group of regional expert comprises of ten senior officers nominated by AMS government officials. In the implementation at the national level, ASEAN Expert Group member leads and directs the national task force in preparation of national contents on relevant topics based on the scope of contents of the GLs.

The 1st and the 2nd meetings of ASEAN Expert Group were held in Myanmar in 2014 and Singapore in 2015 consecutively where scope of contents of the GLs was finalised. The scope of guidelines on SNM covers:

  1. Properties and issues of soils in ASEAN
  2. Good Soil Management Practices
  • • Good Nutrient Management Practices
  1. Standards, Regulations and Market information of bio-fertilizer and supplements
  2. Recommendations for soil and nutrient management

The guidelines will be derived from what has been suggested as best practices in AMS and aim to:

  • • emphasise the importance of soil and nutrient management in attaining sustainable agriculture;.
  • • provide guidance that helps decision makers to formulate policies that encourage sustainable agriculture, crop production and soil health;
  • provide guidance to practitioners to implement best management practices that underpin productive, profitable and sustainable soil and nutrient management;
  • • harmonise recommendations across the ASEAN region in order to improve soil and nutrient management and support the rural sector to become resilient to climate change.

Currently, the development of the guidelines has reached the third review stage by the ASEAN Regional Expert Group. The latest review of contents was conducted last November through the 3rd meeting of ASEAN Expert Group in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The 4th meeting of ASEAN Expert group on SNM was organized from 11 to 12 May 2016, in Brunei Darussalam to review the 3rd draft of ASEAN Regional GLs on SNM.

ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems supports the ASEAN member (AMS) states in formulating the ASEAN Regional Guidelines (GLs) on Soil and Nutrient Management (SNM). The development of the GLs is designed as a policy framework tool to create enabling condition for AMS for the promotion of sustainable food production at the national level. The ASEAN Regional GLs contents are developed through regional and national consultations. The ASEAN Expert Group on SNM is responsible for writing contents of the GLs with support from national working groups in AMS. The Group of regional expert comprises of ten senior officers nominated by AMS government officials. In the implementation at the national level, ASEAN Expert Group member leads and directs the national task force in preparation of national contents on relevant topics based on the scope of contents of the GLs.

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