Today, on 20 May 2009, I (YIM Sok Sophors) participated in the press conference on Year of Rice Action. This event was organized by CEDAC with the financial support from PAN-AP, the conference took for a half day at the morning with the participation of 61 participants, including the media agents from Radio Free Asia, Phnom Penh Post newspaper, Radio FM 102, Radio ABC, Radio VOD, TVK television, CTN television, NEDC network, Reaksmey Kampucher newspaper, kohsantepheap newspaper, the farmer representatives, SRI secretariat, and other CEDAC staff. During the conference, there are 5 speakers (1 speader from CEDAC, 3 farmers and 1 speaker from the SRI secretariat). First of all, Mr. YI Kimthan presented aboutt the historical background of YORA to the participants incldued also the activity plan of YORA for 2009-2010. Later on, the 3 farmers presented about their experiences of conducting seed purification, practices of SRI techniques, and the presentation on rice producer communty, warehouse and rice mill. Another one speaker presented about the background of SRI secretariat and its function in disseminating SRI in the country.
As a result, the participants not only understood about the reasons of why the conference is organized, but also they understood about the activity plan of Year of Rice Action in 2009-2010. Furthermore, the conference has increased the awareness among farmers and the development agencies to defend the traditional rice varieties that those seeds are very important.
Finally, the 4 strategic recommendations were declared at the end of the conference in order to inform the other NGOs, government agencies to take into action. The collaboration and cooperation among the NGOs and other development partners need to be strengthened in order to ensure that the 4 recommendations will come into reality. However, we see that those recommendations are not really new, but they are the things that we need to strengthen. The detail recommendations are presented as follows:
- Capacity building and training to farmers to conduce a good rice seed purification and good seed selection in order to avoid using of external hybrid seeds (including also the GE rice).
- Promote and disseminate the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to the community farmers because this technique is suitable and appropriate to the condition of farmers.
- Improving the top soil fertility through using of natural manure, compost, green manure, cover crops, etc.
- Facilitate to form rice farmer producer groups, community based rice mills, rice warehouse in order to empower the small-scale farmers in negotiating with the middlemen and traders, according to the formation of producer groups it is easier for the rice collectors/traders to buy paddy from the community farmers as well, contributing to ensure a good food security in the community, provide employment to the community people and also receive some substances for using in other purposes (such as rice husk, rice bran… can be used for animal feeding)