By Yim Sok Sophors, Phnom Penh, January 14, 2012

I attended the South and South Exchange Program Planning Meeting from 05 to 10 January 2012. The meeting aimed to sum-up progresses and achievements of the program in 2011 and also to prepare an exchange program plan for 2012 to 2013. Ten participants who are representatives of 5 partner organizations under this exchange program participated in the meeting, including Baowe from Bhutan, SAEDA from Lao-PDR, CEDAC from Cambodia, SLNF from Sri Lanka, and ENF from Thailand. More importantly, a donor representative from FK (Norwegian Org.), who provides funding support for implementing this program, also participated in the meeting.

field visit to Rous Mao’s farm, Takeo province ¬© Yim Soksophors

The meeting was held at Goldianna Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a field trip to Tramkak district, Takeo province was also organized to visit several experimenting farmers who have applied agricultural techniques introduced by Mr. Rasika, the participant from Sri Lanka. During the field trip, I visited three farmers who are experimenting new agricultural techniques, such as Ecological System of Rice Intensification (SRI), vegetable growing techniques by using less water that are resilient to new climate condition especially during the drought period. It is important to note that farmers can also grow vegetables in the plastic bag; many kinds of vegetables can be grown in small space that is affordable for the people who are living in the city. Town dwellers who have limited space to grow vegetables also can apply these techniques. I observe that there are more and more people, especially the people who live in Phnom Penh, have gained further understanding about the negative impact of chemical agricultural product consumption to their health and they prefer to eat organic agricultural products that are locally produced or planted in their own farms.

This exchange program is really good as it provides us more opportunities to share and learn new knowledge and successful experience/best practices in relation to climate smart agricultural techniques, post harvest management and food processing, (vegetable and rice) seed selection and purification, labeling, packaging and marketing etc. The partner organization can learn new things and enhance its human resources on certain topics and skills mentioned above. I would like to stress that, at the end of the meeting, we all decided that eight participants will be exchanged from one to another member country for the exchange program from 2012 to 2013. Women are encouraged to apply !!!