About 400 farmers and other agriculture stakeholders gathered in Siem Reap on Friday for the third Cambodian Sustainable Agricultural Summit, where they called for urgent measures to be put in place to bolster climate-resilient agricultural development.
Held under the theme, “Working together and broadening solidarity to harness sustainable resources for efficient and climate resilient agricultural development”, the event united farmers, agribusinesses, and relevant public and development organisations to discuss ways to protect and preserve the environment and, ultimately, the keep the sector alive.
Song Saran, Chairman of Cambodia Rice Federation, CEO of Amru Rice Company and lead sponsor of the Summit, said, “The summit discussions laid bare that the availability and access to climate finance and infrastructure investment at both farm and country levels remains largely insufficient.
“A multi-stakeholder partnership is needed as an accelerator to transform Cambodian agrifood systems to deliver a win for people, climate and nature. Sustainable ecological and agricultural practices mitigate adverse climate impacts. We should foster practical solutions through mass knowledge sharing, training, good governance, and sufficient funding.”
The universally-agreed timeline to cut human-caused carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent is 2030 – just seven years away. While the net-zero deadline is 2050. With these dates looming, the summit raised the urgency to implement urgent mitigation measures.
Cambodia's food crop surplus, which supports the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians, can be optimised for the global export market, which puts a premium on sustainable sources. However, more needs to be done to resolve systemic shortcomings in irrigation, logistical infrastructure and high energy costs that hamper the sector, experts warn.
While Cambodia has embraced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there remains a lack of climate resilience across its agrifood systems. To reduce greenhouse emissions, practical and sustainable solutions are necessary.
Mey Kalyan, Senior Adviser of the Supreme National Economic Council, said, “Climate change and food safety concerns demand sustainable sources. Cambodia’s food production is relatively greener, we need to leverage this to gain market footholds and more benefits for farmers.
“We should scale-up successful climate-smart solutions and bridge knowledge gaps by research and information sharing. The Royal Government is the fulcrum for multilateral collaboration in real actions, in planning, resources mobilisation and policy support.”
The summit threw the spotlight on a series of climate-smart initiatives. These include using waste as organic fertilisers through biochar, vermiculture and mixed compost; using solar and non-fuel innovations for water management and for alternative energy; and other regenerative agriculture practices.
It was noted that many farmers have diversified to sustainable higher-value crops, while some agri-financing portfolios are now reaching the sector. The event also launched an initiative to lessen carbon emissions along with the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) initiative with Oxfam’s regional program, GRAISEA 2, funded by the Embassy of Sweden Bangkok (SIDA).
Sophoan Phean, Oxfam National Director, said, “Oxfam welcomes the Sustainable Agricultural Summit as a step towards a multi-stakeholder cooperation program that seeks to realise concrete actions to embed sustainable agrifood systems that also seek to recognise and support the critical role of women in agriculture supply chains towards policies for the country’s progress.”