Cambodia’s Minister supports environmental friendly plant protection in promoting sustainable agriculture

Writer: Samorn Channa, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems

H.E Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) recently received a visit of agricultural representatives from five International development cooperation projects and organisations to discuss constraints in promoting the sustainable agriculture systems in Cambodia.

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The six representatives came from the German International Cooperation (GIZ), ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems in cooperation with SNV Netherlands Development Organization CHAIN project, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) through the Ecologically-based Participatory Integrated Pest Management for rice in Cambodia (EPIC) Project, Virigina Tech and World Vegetable Center.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss gaps and receive the Minister’s advice on how to promote the regulation, use and trade of biocontrol agents in Cambodian agriculture. The group met on 4 October 2016 at the Minister Hall of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Phnom Penh.

Referring to the meeting, there is a lack of specified registration and management regulations for environmental friendly crop protection which is seen as a barrier to trade and farmer to access to the biocontrol agent products.

The ASEAN Guidelines on Regulation, Use and Trade of Biological Control Agents (BCAs) which was supported by the ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) project although have been approved by the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) and translated into Khmer language, it needs to be finalized and adapted to fit the Cambodian context and regulation.

The application for registration of biocontrol agents is now drafted with supports of GIZ and in a process of seeking approval from the MAFF.

Agriculture is an important economic sector in Cambodia and plays a key role in the fight against poverty and hunger. However, its productivity is impeded due to the misuse of chemical inputs which cause poor soil conditions and lead to high incidences of pesticide resistances. Cambodia’s products are still competitive on the world market because they are acknowledged for having low chemical residues. But, the regulatory management of synthetic pesticide and fertilizer application need to be strengthened in order to keep this reputation.

Biocontrol agents are known as effective organism and are used for over hundred years throughout the globe to improve agricultural productivity, especially nowadays in Integrated Pest management (IPM) approaches to minimize the use of chemical inputs. There are a lot of research shown that biocontrol agents do not have a risk to human health and environment.

In Cambodia, there is an increased interest from the farmers to work with biological plant protection methods. And already a number of Cambodian companies offer biocontrol agents for plant protection and fertilization. However, the companies have experienced obstacles in the registration of such products, slowing effective distribution. The registration will also help farmers and users because currently some companies claim their products as natural even though they are actually chemical.

The followings were agreed among the international development cooperation projects and organisations for their urgent implementation in promoting the sustainable agriculture systems in Cambodia

  1. Enhancement and improvements of knowledge and capability of official at department of agricultural legislation and general directorate of agriculture by providing training, exchange studies and field demonstration with biocontrol agents on different crops.
  2. Working closely with private sectors in term of quality control and dissemination.
  3. Establish working group to draft and finalize Cambodian regulation on use and trade of Biocontrol Agents (BCAs).
  4. Evident-based to apply and see effectiveness of BCAs for controlling root rot disease in black pepper farm, Kirivong district, Takeo province by involving General Directorate of Agriculture  and other experts

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