CEDAC Positions during the Meeting with PM

During the retreat meeting organized by the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) at Peace Palace on 17 February 2012, CEDAC was one of the five NGOs, which were granted by the Prime Minister to deliver a short speech addressing flood relief operation in 2011. Dr. Yang Saing Koma, CEDAC Founder and President, gave a free 17 minutes speech (with prepared notes) to the meeting. Koma, I and Mr. Him Khortieth; we have prepared the notes together. I would like to highlight some points raised by Dr. Koma as below.

He stated about brief background of himself, coming from Takeo province and got the scholarship to go to Germany in 1984 via the government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), the official name of the Kingdom of Cambodia at that time. With 20 U$ in his pocket, he returned to Cambodia as Dr. Koma (PhD in Agricultural Sciences) after more than ten years studying and living in East Germany. He provided brief background of CEDAC and what our organization is doing now and on what CEDAC has done to support the flood victims recently. He referred also to the peace and political stability of our country, where people can enjoy working and living everywhere. He used this great opportunity to raise some points as follows:

Suggestions or requests from CEDAC

Water management and erosion protection

  • Rehabilitate or/and reconstruct the small –medium scale irrigation schemes such as small canals, small dikes and reservoirs to store the water for flood receding or dry season rice
  • Rehabilitate small to medium scales of irrigation infrastructure, especially for those schemes around 1,000 ha, which could be managed by farmers or local authorities and at lower cost
  • Establish the “National Fund for Irrigation”, which could be accessed by local authorities and FWUCs to rehabilitate small scales irrigated infrastructure. Those schemes could be “too small for government’s and/or donor’s project”, but are normally  “too big for farmers”
  • Cultivated land, which has been cleared recently, could be left with some forests to cover the soil and to protect rapid soil erosion

Restoring agricultural production after flood

  • Increasing seed storage facilities, especially with quality and non-season binding seeds to be distributed immediately to needed farmers to re-plant their rice
  • Facilitating joint nursery plots, so that farmers can share the rice seedlings on time, especially by using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques
  • Should not encourage farmers to cultivate dry season rice, where the water shortage could occur or there is not enough water in the area
  • In some places, where it is not appropriate with dry season rice cultivation, farmers should be encouraged to plant soybean, kind of white bean etc., which could be harvested in a short period of time and have high price at the market

Training facilities and model farm

  • Establishing the Young Agri-Entrepreneurs vocational training school for young farmers. They will be trained to become successful producers in the rural areas, based on the successful program conducted by CEDAC in the recent years (YCL: Young Community Leaders Program and YAE: Young Agri-Entrepreneurs Program)
  • Establishing model community (2-3 places), where there is a successful cooperation between Rural Development Bank (RDB), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Agriculture Development Community (ADC) for sharing and learning purposes. Based on this successful model, it could be developed and supported nationwide.

The Prime Minister spent also more than 20 minutes to reply, to interact directly with Koma and to provide feedbacks point by point to the issues raised by CEDAC. He welcomed those suggestions, though some of them are not on the agenda of today’s meeting and asked MAFF, RDB and other Ministries to cooperate with us to consider the young farmer schools, the ADC model, the small scale rehabilitation and the use of the 2.8% of GDP fund, which is allocated to the communes each year, for this purpose. Each communes got from the central government around 80 million Riels (about U$ 20,000) per year for improving small scale infrastructure such as road or irrigation schemes. I am happy to be able to contribute to this meeting and have my points concerning irrigation raised to the PM.

It is important to note that we were among the 25 Students, who got the scholarship from the Former German Democratic Republic (GDR) to study there. The GDR and the PRK had bilateral agreement, which allowed each year 60 students to go for vocational trainings, 30 students to study at the faculties, 25 students to study at university level and 5-10 PhD students. Most of them returned to Cambodia to help rebuilding our country. Mr. Hun Sen was at that time Minister of Foreign Affairs till 1985, when he became PM since then.

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