FAO office, January 5, 2016, I was interviewed by 2 students (one Cambodian student and one Vietnamese student) from LKY University to discuss policy related to climate change adaptation measures on Cambodia’s rice production.

Sophors & LKY students
Sophors (c) & LKY students

Three policy options include the implementation of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Crop Insurance, and the Use of Climate-resilient Crop Varieties are proposed by the students whether they are workable in the Cambodia context or not.

During the discussion meeting, I shared with them existing practices and experience of the promotion of SRI, resilient crop varieties, and crop insurance.

  • SRI is a good practice option which can be considered as the climate smart agriculture technique. SRI does not need much water, some water can be saved for other purposes. In addition, the amount of seed is much less compare to the conventional practices. Let say 10 to 15 kg/ha while 60-70 kg/ha for the conventional lowland rice production. For the broadcasting rice planting, more than 150 kg is needed per hectare.
  • Access to resilient crops or good quality rice seed is limited among rural farmers. Cambodia has many local rice varieties, some are drought tolerant and some are flood tolerant. Therefore, it is good to promote local rice seed selection and purification among the local farmers, at the same time to strengthen the primary seed companies to distribute good quality rice seed to the farmers.
  • In general, crop insurance seems new to the Cambodian farmers at the present time. It might be not appropriate for the Cambodian farmers at the present time but in the future. However, we see there are only few insurance projects have been implemented in Cambodia, for example, Cambodian Micro Agriculture Insurance Scheme (CaMAIS) currently being implemented by CEDAC. As I learned, Heifer International might also be providing insurance for the cattle in its working areas.

To me, SRI, tolerant seed, and crop insurance are contributing to improving farmers’ adaptive capacity to cope with the climate change impact on rice production. But more effort is needed especially the practice of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), including improved water storage and supply systems, integrated water management/water use efficiency, as well as to enhance the enabling environment through creating a better market condition for the rice farmers.

The students will also conduct focus-group interview with the farmers from Kampong Speu and Pursat Provinces.