MAFF, the focal agency of the ATMI-ASEAN Project in Cambodia, held its 2nd National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) Meeting on 7 December 2018 at the Tonle Bassac II Restaurant. The NPSC meeting is part of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities of the ATMI-ASEAN Project. Mr. Prak Cheattho, Deputy Director General of the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) of MAFF and ATMI-ASEAN Project focal point in Cambodia, chaired the meeting on behalf of Dr. Meas Pyseth, Deputy Secretary General of MAFF. The meeting served as venue for NPSC members to be updated on the status of the national-level policy study titled Value Chain Analysis of Maize in Cambodia. Mr. Sorn Vichet, Chief of Planning and Statistics Office of GDA, presented the initial findings of the policy study to the NPSC members and project partners.
Ms. Bernice Anne C. Darvin, Program Specialist, and Ms. Loise Ann M. Carandang, Project Assistant, both of the Research and Development Department of SEARCA, attended the meeting on behalf of the Center and the Project Team. Ms. Darvin presented to the NPSC members the remaining planned activities of the ATMI-ASEAN Project for the Cambodia component and the regional-level.
The Policy Roundtable (PRT) with the theme, Agricultural Transformation and Market Integration in ASEAN: The Case of Maize Industry in Cambodia, was organized on 11 December 2018 at Phnom Penh Hotel. The main objective of the PRT was to solicit inputs and recommendations from various stakeholders involved in the maize industry of Cambodia for the successful completion of the policy study.
Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA's Program Head for Research and Development, delivered a message for the Center. He acknowledged the crucial role of agriculture in boosting overall regional development, and emphasized the need for various institutions and stakeholders to work together in building the capacity of smallholder farmers and small-scale rural producers (SSRPs) and facilitate their integration into the regional agricultural market. Dr. Orencio likewise noted in his message that corn [or maize], which is Cambodia's second most important commercially-grown crop, is one of the country's high-potential agricultural commodity spread across 25 provinces. He shared with the group the specific objectives of the PRT and enjoined everyone to actively participate in the discussion.
In her message, Ms. Aniq Fadhillah, ATMI-ASEAN Policy Facilitator of IFPRI, said that while there is growth in income in the region, this alone is insufficient to attain consistent and accelerated improvement in food security indicators. She added that structural transformation in the region poses challenges to its food security and inclusive agricultural growth agenda and that integration of agricultural markets within the region is high on the policy agenda in view of the establishment of the ASEAN common market. In this regard, she noted in her message the importance of discussing value chain competitiveness in order to achieve a competitive AEC.
On behalf of MAFF, Mr. Prak Cheattho formally welcomed the participants and guests and expressed his sincere appreciation for joining the event. He said that the PRT shall serve as an opportunity for the participants to exchange information and experiences on agricultural policy implementation in Cambodia, particularly on the maize industry. Furthermore, he shared with the group the previous activities of the ATMI-ASEAN Project where delegates from Cambodia government and research institutions participated in; included in these activities was the Training-Workshop on Rapid Value Chain Assessment held on 1-3 November 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand, where the priority commodity for Cambodia policy study was identified and a draft plan of study was developed. He said that maize is among the top agricultural commodities of Cambodia, following rice and cassava, that contributes to the country's agricultural production, food security, income, and exports. He added that the PRT will discuss the maize industry, particularly its value chain as animal feeds, focused on the generation of income and finding potential markets for the commodity. He likewise shared the challenges that the industry is currently faced with and elaborated this during his presentation of the initial findings of the policy study and experiences during the field survey.
Mr. Mak Mony, Director of the Department of Planning and Statistics of MAFF, discussed the Cambodia Agricultural Development Plan and Policy, while Mr. Yi Bunhak, Deputy Director of the Department of Agro-Industry of MAFF, tackled the agri-food value chains for smallholders in the country. Mr. Manmeet Ajmani, Research Analyst from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), shared their case study on market integration in Cambodia.
Prof. Jimmy B. Williams, ATMI-ASEAN Project Support Unit (PSU) Coordinator, facilitated the plenary discussion on the role of farmers and civil society organizations (FOs/CSOs) and the private sector in agricultural transformation and market integration. Mr. Pan Sopheap, Executive Director of Farmer and Nature Network (FNN), started the session off with presenting FNN's initiatives on this front.
Around 50 experts from the government, academe, farmers and civil society organizations, and the private sector participated in the PRT. Ms. Darvin and Ms. Carandang of RDD also participated in the activity. (Loise Ann M. Carandang)