Cambodia February 2014

Strengthening Agricultural Extension in Cambodia: Workshop on Demand-Driven, Participatory, Pluralistic Agricultural Extension Services

Workshop held at Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia February 11, 2014

Purpose and Background of Workshop

In order to understand the need for improvement and/or reform of extension services in Cambodia, a one-day workshop on agricultural extension service was organized in Phnom Penh on February 11, 2014. Fifty professionals attended the workshop.

Participants realized that the linkage between agricultural research and extension in Cambodia is weak. Low communication between researchers and extension service, no public database to store the information on research results, lack of coordination and policy support, no practice is in place for soliciting feedback from partner organizations, and lack of funding are the factors constraining the linkages. Enforcing existing policy, prioritizing the research areas, and establishment of a Research and Development Council are suggested. Participants suggested developing the policy, action plan, and budget collectively between research and extension.

Linkage between agricultural education and agricultural extension is also weak. Constraints: budget, human resources, lack of common goals for strategic development in institutions, lack of sharing of information on achievement and future plans, lack of transfer or translation of research findings for farmers, and lack of skill/knowledge in analysing local problems were highlighted. Developing common goals and an integrated action plan, engaging private sector in developing solutions and disseminating information, orientation in market demand, in agricultural research and education, and development of entrepreneurship to support agricultural development came up as the suggestions to strengthen these linkages.

Marketing of major agricultural products such as fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry in Cambodia are weak. Rice marketing is satisfactory. Lack of quality products, no standard certification, inadequate market infrastructures and lack of market information systems are problems. The needs for marketing information, standard certification, and for an increase in private and public investment in market infrastructure are felt.

Participants suggested the promotion of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) to “General Department of Agricultural Extension” (GDAE), the establishment of a voice on Agriculture radio together with the decentralization of Training-of-Trainer program on agricultural extension, demonstration of farmer field school, and decentralization of the budget to sub-national level.

DAE, CARDI and RUA have their own websites and email system, but they do not share and update each other. Farmers’ awareness level is low and they lack access to extension resources. Furthermore, ODOC has only 10 staff with little experience. They need training on Agriculture Information Management, ICT, GIS, and other relevant programs. Methods suggested for teaching women farmers, the poor, and other disadvantaged groups are picture, poster, video clip, presentation/dialogue (story telling), and visit methods.

An inadequate number of faculty to teach courses, inadequate physical facilities and research fields are the major issues related to university and training institutions. Short- and long-term trainings are suggested to train manpower. Inadequate budget and physical facilities remain major challenges. The workshop recommends requesting a 5-year program from the USAID for capacity building of the field extension personnel.

Finally, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is embarking on a consultative process to create a national policy and select implementation guidelines on agricultural extension aiming to bring about real improvement in the agricultural sector. Prof. Murari Suvedi, leading the technical assistance team from USAID, has already initiated the agricultural policy-formulation process incorporating the above findings and suggestions received from the Policy Formulation Team (PFT). PFT has reviewed literature on agricultural extension policy, examined and studied Cambodia’s agricultural extension act(s) and directives, and also held consultations and dialogue with stakeholders (including international development partners) during the regional and national workshops to enable inputs to policy. Inputs from local consultant(s) and Core Team members in Cambodia have also been invaluable in the policy formulation process.

Introduction

Agriculture remains an important sector of the Cambodian economy. It contributes about one-third of the GDP and employs about 60 percent of the labor force.  Approximately 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and over 90 percent of the poor who live in rural areas rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Transformation of the agriculture sector will lead to economic growth and poverty alleviation. Extension services play an important role in increasing agricultural production. Extension provides farmers with technical knowledge and information related to improved agricultural practices. Most developing countries have established agricultural extension services to promote the use of modern inputs to increase agricultural production, such as new seed varieties, fertilizer, and pesticides by training farmers, organizing method and result demonstrations, and making extensive use of mass media.

Agricultural extension activities in Cambodia began in 1957 when the Agriculture Ministry set up an extension unit. The civil war in the 1970s devastated the country’s economy and almost all agricultural extension infrastructures were destroyed. The provision of agricultural extension services to farmers returned in 1986 with an extension office within the Agriculture Ministry and then the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) was established in 1995. The Department of Agricultural Extension has about 1,103 professional staff (including senior management, subject-matter specialists, and field extension staff). Extension services are also provided by agribusinesses, NGOs, and community-based organizations supported by donor agencies and organizations.

In order to fully understand the need for improvement and/or reform of extension services, a one-day workshop on agricultural extension service was organized in Phnom Penh on June 14, 2013.  Table 1 below summarizes the major problems/issues facing agricultural extension services in Cambodia and suggested solutions.

 

Table 1. Summary of extension problems/issues and suggested solutions

Problem/Issues Identified by Participants

Suggested Solutions

Limited of human resource in extension

Strengthen human resource by providing short- and long-term training

Budget constrain for extension

Increase budget for extension work

Lack of materials and infrastructure

Build extension infrastructure, find donors

Lack of coordination and communication, management of extension service

Establish a system of monitoring, evaluation and regular follow-up

No innovation/lack new technologies

Improve research capacity, strengthen extension-research linkages

Lack of extension policy and regulation

Prepare and develop legal framework/policy guidelines for agricultural extension

Lack of participation from local people

Increase number of training, improve effectiveness of training, be demand-driven

In order to address the issues identified and discuss the suggested solutions, a day-long workshop was organized to expose senior and mid-career agricultural development professionals and policymakers on the emerging and demand-driven, pluralistic agricultural development polices, program and modules.

The workshop also sought recommendations for:

1.      Improving agricultural extension services through specific policy and guidelines promoting decen­tralization, privatization, cost recovery, client participatory in extension, and demand-driven delivery of extension service;

2.      Linking agricultural research, agricultural extension and agricultural education functions for agri­cultural development;

3.      Promoting and supporting pluralistic extension service;

4.      Using information communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance extension programs;

5.      Linking farmers to market through extension; and

6.      Managing extension services—program planning, implementation and evaluation, in-service training of extension professionals, etc.

The workshop was a team work. Dr. Mak Soeun, Director of Department of Agricultural Extension worked closely with H.E. Dr. Ngo Bunthan, Rector of Royal University of Agriculture and Dr. Murari Suvedi to plan the workshop. Dr. Bunthan extended invitations to select senior and mid-career agricultural development professionals in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Department of Agriculture Extension, Cambodia Agricultural Research Institute, Royal University of Agriculture, and representatives from Research and Development agencies such as CDRI, Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC), Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development (CIRD) and Nuppun Institute for Economic Research (NUPPUN). USAID/Cambodia extended invitations to development partners like FAO, SNV, JICA and Oxfam/America. The workshop was attended by 50 professionals.

Workshop Agenda and Structure:

The opening session started with a brief background of the workshop by H.E. Ngo Bunthan, Rector of Royal University of Agriculture. He articulated the need for the workshop and its timeliness. He shared the summary of discussions from first workshop in June 2013 which was organized at MAFF by Michigan State University.

Mr. William Bradley, Agriculture Team Leader at USAID/Cambodia welcomed the participants. He shared that a diverse, nimble, and participatory extension approach is critical to meeting the demands of the broader economy. A strong extension system is also critical to becoming a competitive player in the ASEAN region market and USAID is committed to helping Cambodia achieve this goal.

H.E So Khan Rithykhun opened the workshop. He remarked the need for a national agricultural extension policy to modernize Cambodian agriculture.

The opening session was followed by three major presentations:

·        The first presentation was given by H.E So Khan Rithykhun entitled “Key features of Cambodia’s Agricultural Development Strategy.” The presentation highlighted the statistical data about the agricultural production situation in Cambodia. He also articulated the need for a uniform agricultural extension policy and for implementation guidelines for the development of Cambodian agriculture.

·        The second presentation was made by Dr. Mak Soeun, Director of Department of Agricultural Extension. His presentation focused on challenges facing agricultural extension in Cambodia. He also shared some opportunities to address the problems and challenges.

·        The third presentation was made by Prof. Murari Suvedi of Michigan State University and Dr. Men Sarom, Vice Rector of the Royal University of Agriculture. They shared findings of a national study on farmers’ perspectives of agricultural extension services in Cambodia. Perspectives of local officials were also shared. The study was conducted in 2013 through funding from Michigan State University Food Security Group/USAID-Cambodia.

Breakout Sessions:

The afternoon program was organized into six breakout sessions. Participants were allowed to choose the topic they preferred. Each breakout session discussed major issues and presented a summary of the discussion. The following section is drawn from the breakout session presentations:

Breakout Session # 1: How to Strengthen Linkage between Agricultural Research and Extension 

Summary of discussion included the following:

1.      There is a weak linkage between agricultural research and extension

2.      The following points are considered as the constraints in fostering the linkage between research and extension:

·     Low communication between researchers and extension service.

·     No pubic database to store the information on research results.

·     Lack of coordination and policy support between the two sectors (research and extension). Some research findings were kept only at their own organizations with no chance to transfer/disseminate to local community.

·     Lack of feedback from farmers to extension and extension to researchers -- thus the research work might not shoot the target.

·     Lack of funding to coordinate activities between research and extension

3.      Mechanisms to strengthen linkage between agricultural research and extension:

·        Enforce policy implementation-There are many policy papers available, but there should be the enforcement of implementation.

·        Research priority consultation: The research areas should be identified and prioritized to match with the best need of the local community

·        Research and Development Council need to be developed to coordinate the linkage

·        Strengthening linkage

Enforce Policy Implementation

·        Identify clear roles of research and extension-responsibility of research and extension should be well-defined.

·        Encourage research and extension services by using incentive tool in terms of salary or nomination for higher position. 

 

Research Priority Consultation

·        Enforce two-way mechanisms (research to extension to farmers, farmer to extension to research).

·        Encourage donors to bring extension services and research to work together – to make the link together and share info between the two sectors.

 

Research and Development Council

·        Encourage publication after research is done: after research is published it can be shared to make it available to public and to extension services

 

Breakout session 2: How to strengthen linkage between Agricultural Education and Agricultural Extension and Agricultural Research 

The summary of discussion and presentation is as follows:

1.      The group discussed to elaborate the linkage between each sector—research education and extension:

·        Linkage between agricultural education and agricultural extension is weak. However, it is already in progress

·        Linkage between agricultural education and agricultural research – weak

·        General linkages between agricultural extension and agricultural research – weak

 

2.      Constraints in fostering linkages or working relationship between agricultural education, agricultural research and agricultural extension are as below: 

·        Budget constraints: Most of the institutions are familiar with this situation already as of most of the donors prefer to work only on development issues rather than this specific sector

·        Human resource constraints: As the current practices, people are working in many subject areas from admin to technical…there should be a single person working in admin and the technical person should deal only with technical issue. All key stakeholders should work together to settle a single problem together. Then it will be more effective.

·        Lack of integration of common goal for strategic development in institution   

·        Lack of sharing information on achievement and future plan: Information should be shared to all key stakeholders. Result from research findings should be translated into a simple message as they are not yet practices and not well in place. All together, they should have skills to see and develop an action plan as a research activity and translate it to a short message to solve problems.

·        Lack of transfer or translation of research findings as message material for farmer: research results always published for some specific requirement, but translation of the finding into a simple message material to reach the farmers is not yet in place.

·        Lack of skill/knowledge analysing local problems; lack of involving research to solve problems.

 

3.      Mechanism to strengthen linkage between agricultural education, agricultural research and agricultural extension:

·        Develop common goal and integrated action plan

·        Engage private sector in developing solution and disseminating information     

·        Market-demand orientation in agricultural research  and education

·        Develop entrepreneurship to support agricultural development

 

4.      Education-research-extension linkages can be strengthened through:

·        Regular information sharing—from local problem/farmers to research institution and sharing back from researcher to farmers in the form of simple message/awareness raising programs

·        Encourage student internships- they will be exposed to the real field work during internship period. Thus, they will be able to understand real field problems and develop meaningful research proposals

·        Be market demand oriented in agricultural research  and education

 

5.      It is suggested that for the long-run perspective, integrate extension methods and needs assessment into curriculum development should be placed as the first priority.

 

Breakout session 3: How to Strengthen Participation of Private Sector in Linking Markets, Farmers and Extension 

1.      It is noted that major agricultural products such as fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry market in Cambodia are weak except rice is satisfactory. The group has listed the constraints and suggested solution as the following table:

 

Constraints/Barriers

Solutions by extension and private sector

Lack of quality of products

No standard certification

Input suppliers to supply quality inputs and public sector to control quality-public sector should be the regulator

Standard certification by public sector or private sector - ISO by private sector

Seasonality/shortage of produce

Form Producer Groups, Cooperatives

Improve water control/irrigation- year round for better supply of water

Lack of market information (price, buyers, export…)

Extension professionals to know market information

Public sector to generate and provide market information-Private sector is for profit only, thus not reliable

Lack of market infrastructure (e.g. collection centers in community)

Investment by private sector in partnerships with public sector/Development Partners

 

Breakout session 4: How to address Decentralization of Extension Management?

1.      Agricultural extension can be strengthened using the following model:

·        Develop the policy, action plan and budget collectively between research and extension, thus this two sector will work together using the available budget

·        Extension service should be made available to local community (at village commune and levels)

·        Mainstreaming extension service to commune level/head of commune

·        Budget allocation of extension agent


2.      Changes needed in Department of Agricultural Extension or General Department of Agriculture to strengthen extension service

·        DAE should be promoted to be a General Department of Agricultural Extension (GDAE)

·        Establish a voice on Agriculture radio: as for the current practices, only private companies advertise their products which likely pose significant threats to human health and environment

·        Double-check on advertising documents to ensure that they are providing a corrected message and quality products

·        Install scientific and modern equipment for the DAE

·        Keep/continue the competition forum of good farmer in agricultural work

 

3.      Decentralized aspect of agricultural extension in Cambodia:

·        Training of trainer program on agricultural extension

·        Demonstration of farmer field school

·        Decentralized budget to sub-national level--for instance, propose budget management for extension services at provincial level, e.g., Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Banteay Mean Chey, etc.

·        Pilot project on establishment of a tele-center

 

4.      The effectiveness of extension service can be improved by

·        Promoting public-private partnership (Yes)

·        Charging fee for service (Yes)

·        Maintaining high level of customer satisfaction (Yes)

·        Serving disadvantaged groups (Yes)

 

5.      Other suggestions are:

·        Set up a training program on Planning for agricultural extension

·        Provide more opportunity to local authority to get involve in extension services

Breakout session 5: Effective delivery of extension message to farmers and use of ICTs

1.      ICTs being used in DAE, CARDI and RUA, however:

·        DAE, CARDI and RUA have their own websites and email system but they do not share and update each other, thus there is no linkage between those institutions

·        There is no regular update the information on the website

·        Farmers’ level of education is too low and thus, access to and use of ICT is impossible

·        There is no appropriate ICT infrastructure in place at the district/commune levels--for example, no server, no networking services

·        There is no official/appropriate guidelines for information sharing and management

 

2.      ODOC should be improved for the following rational:

·        Staff capacity: there are only 10 staff and they all are young with no experience, as well as no practical skills and other technical capacities such as GIS or other related knowledge. Thus we need more staff with the capacity of Agriculture Information Management, ICT, GIS and other relevant program.

·        Technology hardware/software: ODOC does not have a server and it has rented from USA to host website. It is suggested that all ICT infrastructures should be in place.

·        Operation and maintenance: Budget is very limited to work on this section

 

3.      Training needs:

·        Word, Excel, etc.

·        Internet and Email usage

·        Social network program (i.e., Facebook)

·        Internet Searching

 

4.      Methods to teach women farmers, the poor, disadvantaged groups: Since they are not well-educated, the following methods are suggested:

·        Picture, Poster, Video clip

·        Presentation/dialogue (story telling)

·        Training by doing (demonstration farm)/ Farmer Field School

·        Individual visit/follow up

 

5.      Additional suggestions:

·        Should put ICT in high priority in government’s policy: ICT is already in policy paper but there is no budget for implementation

·        ICT should focus on market orientation (information, linkage): this would be a bottom-up approach

·        Encourage private sectors to invest in ICT development as it is a very important actor in development

Breakout session 6: Training of Extension Professionals (refresher training) and Pre-service Training of Frontline Workers   

1.      Pre-service education or training need at colleges and university:

Major issues/challenges

·        Adequate number of faculty to each courses       : Major issue

·        Physical facilities                                                         : Major issue

·        Research field                                                              : Major issue

·        Up to date curriculum in agriculture                       : Minor

·        Student interest                                                           : Minor

·        Level of funding support from government           : Minor

 

2.      Pre-service education and /or training program: who should provide what kind of training?

 

Type of training:

One year training for frontline workers, since we found that only grassroots level people will work closely with farmers.

(For commune and village-should establish national program for frontline extension workers, DAE and university should be the trainer)

Four year B.Sc. degree training: for trainer’s professional extension (trainer from B.Sc. Agriculture to be trained).

Major issues/challenges

Budget

Human resources

Physical facility

 

 

3.      How can provincial/regional research of GDA/DAE be best utilized for training and front line extension workers?

  • ·        It can be in the form of information-gathering, sharing, refresher training, and front line extension workers
  • ·        Sharing what is available (e.g., training station)

4.      It is suggested that USAID should support the 5-year program for a capacity building project for those who work with farmers.

 

Concluding Remarks

H.E Ngo Bunthan, Rector of RUA summarized suggestions from the six breakout sessions and indicated that these are very important inputs to strengthen agricultural extensions in Cambodia -- to be more effective and on the right track. The following are key points from those breakout sessions:

·        Two types of training are needed to address the human resources needs: Training for the frontline workers (new program) and Master’s degree training for those already holding a Bachelor of Science in related fields and potentially in the field of agricultural extension

·        A new program should be developed for frontline workers, extension should be integrated into curriculum for the related field of study

·        Public-private partnership is an urgent need in order to strengthen the agricultural extension services in Cambodia

·        The available resources such as a training center and research stations can be mobilized during the project implementation. 

The concluding remarks with the following key messages were made by H.E So Khan Rithykun, General Director of GDA, MAFF:

·        Public Private Partnership is important to support farmers since public sector alone is unable to provide the extension service to all the coverage areas due to limited resources. We should develop an agricultural extension policy that provides a platform for involving the private sector. We do hope USAID will help us to work out with this issue.

·        Few research studies conducted in Cambodia are sufficient; more effort is needed to improve the agricultural technology in Cambodia. This requires long-term and consistent efforts.

·        Our Prime Minister has mentioned recently that vocational training is a good way to focus on these things in the meantime since Cambodia has produced so many Bachelor’s and Master’s degree graduates, but they are not the field operators.

·        More training (pre-service and refresher training) is needed to make the extension more professional.    

 

The two workshops have prompted the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to initiate a process to develop agricultural extension policy in Cambodia. The General Department of Agriculture (GDA) has requested USAID/Cambodia (through HARVEST) for technical assistance and the USAID/Cambodia has responded positively. GDA has formed a “Working Group” representing senior officials from technical departments. 

Finally, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is embarking on a consultative process of creating a national policy and selected implementation guidelines on agricultural extension aiming to bring about real improvement in the agricultural sector. Prof. Murari Suvedi, leading the technical assistance team from USAID, has already initiated the agricultural policy formulation process incorporating the above findings. Suggestions received from the Policy Formulation Team (PFT) which reviewed literature on agricultural extension policy, examined and studied Cambodia’s agricultural extension act(s) and directives, held consultations, dialog, and discussion with stakeholders (including international development partners) during the regional and national workshops to ensure policy inputs are included in the policy document being written. Inputs from local consultant(s) and Core Team members in Cambodia have also been invaluable in policy formulation process.


 

Workshop Agenda

Time

Activity

Key persons

8:00 a.m.

Registration

 

8:30 a.m.

Welcome Remarks

H.E. Ngo Bunthan, Rector RUA

Mr. William Bradley, USAID

H.E. So Khan Rithykun, GDA

9:00 a.m.

Self-introduction of Participants

Participants

9:15 a.m.

Introduction to the Workshop and Expectations

Dr. Murari Suvedi, MSU

9:30 a.m.

Key Features of Cambodia’s Agricultural Development Strategy

Dr. So Khan Rithykun, Director General, GDA MAFF

10:00

Break

 

10:30 a.m.

Agricultural Extension in Cambodia: Challenges and Opportunities 

Dr. Mak Soeun, Director of Agricultural Extension, MAFF

11:00 a.m.

Agricultural Extension Needs in Cambodia:
Perspectives of Farmers and Local Officials

Dr. Murari Suvedi, MSU

Dr. Men Sarom, RUA

12:00 Noon

Lunch

 

1:00-3:00p.m.

Small Group Discussion and Presentation:

How to strengthen:

1.   Linkages between Agricultural Research and Extension

2.   Linkages between Agricultural Education and Agricultural Extension and Research

3.   Participation of Private Sector in Linking Markets, Farmers and Extension

Discussion Leaders

 

·        Mr. Pin Tara, Chea Siem Univ of Kam Chay Mear

·        Dr. Seng Mom, RUA

·        Mr. Chan Sophal, Cambodia HARVEST

 

Small Group Discussion and Presentation:

How to address:

4.   Decentralization of Extension Management

5.   Effective delivery of extension message to farmers and Use of ICTs

6.   Training of Extension Professionals (refresher training) and Pre-service Training of Frontline Workers, Input Supply Dealers  

Discussion Leaders:

 

·        Mr. Srun Sokhum, GDA

·        Mr. Gnean Choch, IDOC

·        Dr. Chan Saeuth, Dept of Agricultural Machinery

 

3:00 p.m.

Break

 

3:30 p.m.

Way Forward: Recommendations for Strengthening Agricultural Extension Services in Cambodia

Dr. Ngo Bunthan, RUA

4:00 p.m.

Workshop wrap-up

William Bradley, USAID

4:10 p.m.

Closing Remarks

H.E. Dr. So Khan Rithykun, GDA

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