National Forum on Biological Control Agents shares success storiesy for sustainable agriculture in Cambodia

By Benjamin Scholz

Introducing and promoting Biocontrol agents as an alternative to commonly used chemical agricultural inputs was at the core of the ‘National Forum on the regulation, trade and use of Biocontrol Agents (BCA) in Cambodian agriculture’ held from 22-23 April 2015 in Battambang, Cambodia.

The two-day workshop was hosted by the GIZ ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems project (ASEAN-SAS) in collaboration with the USAID Cambodia HARVEST funded program and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

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An actual body of evidence for advantages of biological agricultural practices, such as higher yields, increased income opportunities, and improved health indicators were presented from BCA field trials by Dr. Kean Sophea from the General Directorate of Agriculture, Ms. Elodie Schoenmakers from Charlemagne High Education Institute, Mr. Melvin Medina from Cambodia HARVEST, and Mr. Sip Pagnasoley from University of Battambang.

DSCN3942Regional GIZ expert Dr. Thomas Jaekel presented on the economic benefits arising from the use of BCA highlighting that “farming is a business” opportunity for smallholders.

From the government side, Mr. Pum Ra from Department of Agricultural Legislation (DAL) provided an overview of the ongoing process of implementing the ASEAN Guideline in Cambodia to regulate the use and trade of BCA products, jointly carried out with GIZ ASEAN-SAS and Cambodia HARVEST.

Among the more than 110 participants were representatives of the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), Department of Agricultural Legislation (DAL), International organizations, various farmer and rural development NGOs, farmer cooperatives, the University of Battambang (UBB), and numerous agricultural input companies committed to the commercial production and distribution of BCA.

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Some selected forerunners among the companies displayed their products – mainly organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides, seeds, irrigation schemes, and organic groceries – to potential customers and cooperation partners throughout the duration of the workshop. Altogether, the national forum provided a beneficial platform for a broad range of actors to identify entry points of cooperation and push forward the rollout of BCA throughout Cambodia.