News: Leadership in Cambodian Rice Production, January 2017

The ongoing uptake and use of existing research and technologies are essential for improving the production of rice by smallholder farmers and their families across SE Asia.

A train-the-trainer course in practical rice agronomy was recently undertaken for this very purpose at Mean Chey University (MCU), Cambodia, for lecturers, trainers and extension advisors. The enthusiastic trainees included students and lecturers from five universities in Cambodia and one in Laos, as well as technical staff from two provincial departments of agriculture, three Vocational Centres and two NGOs. Employees from three private companies also participated.


Slideshow: Views of smallholder production in NW Cambodia and the course students doing class and field work

The training consisted of a series of workshops in Sustainable Intensification and Diversification in the Lowland Rice System of N W Cambodia. The training was carried out in MCU classrooms and laboratories, with practical field work training in the surrounding area taking place at a Don Bosco farm and another private farm near Battambang.

The course has successfully increased the number of practically-trained and motivated local teachers and experts. This is necessary to help transfer important technologies and research through the private sector, public institutions and NGOs. The trainees from these types of organizations have now returned to their institutions and employers with greater practical knowledge of all aspects of lowland rice production.

This 3-week training course was the latest in a successful cascade of ‘train-the-trainer’ courses in practical sustainable technology organised by MCU for smallholder farmers in Cambodia’s provinces and in neighbouring countries. Supported by the Crawford Fund Master Class and its NSW Committee’s Training Program, through the University of Sydney, the course was designed and produced by Clive Murray of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) in close collaboration with Dr Yorn Try, MCU’s Vice-Rector. Trainers came from the University of Sydney, Cambodian and Vietnamese research and education institutions and CropLife Asia (a consortium of agribusinesses). Training was conducted in English and Vietnamese with translation into Khmer when necessary.

University of Sydney people pictured here are Jarrod Ormiston (L) and Bill Rathmell (R of Centre) in the back row, and Rosanne Quinnell (middle row in front of the pagoda)

The feedback from the trainees was uniformly positive—almost all said the course would help them transfer technology to farmers and that they would attend again if offered the chance. Many wished the course had been longer and more detailed.

“The training has already had results,” says Bill Rathmell who initiated the course at the suggestion of Denis Blight of the Crawford Fund.

Bill goes on to explain, “The NGO Ockenden Cambodia has already replicated part of it with the help of Dr Xuan-Cuong Dao, SFSAs Vietnamese trainer and Yorn Try (MCU). The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, a Crawford Fund contributor, will incorporate lessons learned as well as trainers and trainees from the course in their new project: ‘Sustainable intensification and diversification in the lowland rice system in Northwest Cambodia’. This project is being led by Daniel Tan of the University of Sydney, and it will involve many of the people from different institutions who created and participated in this course.”

Local Cambodian media coverage (SEATV) took place while the training was running, and further information can be found at the following links: