The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will roll out a new Agricultural Extension Policy that will look to boost the sector by making new knowledge and technology easily accessible to farmers and communities, in a bid to increase efficiency and productivity in the sector.
Minister Ouk Rabun said the policy, which is expected to be launched in two months, will disseminate and make accessible new technologies that will help farmers increase their yield in a sustainable manner.
“[The policy] will be launched soon. It aims to increase awareness of new technologies on farming techniques to farmers in a bigger scope through agricultural extension officers from public sector, private sector and development partners,” he said.
Mak Soeun, director of the Department of Agricultural Extension, said the policy will be implemented using a five-pronged approach: strengthening the regulatory framework on agricultural extension; increasing the capacity of officers and agents; incorporating affordable and practical farming techniques; improved information and messaging; and better delivery systems for this information.
“The vision of the policy is to expand and improve effectiveness of agricultural extension to farmers,” he added.
Soeun said, at least 2,000 more agricultural extension specialists are needed to fill human capital gaps, with the aim of assigning at least two agricultural extension agents for one commune.
“Currently, there are about 70 agricultural extension officers only at national level and less than 1,000 at sub-national level, which is not enough to cover most of the country,” he said.
Eang Sophallet, spokesman for the ministry, said the policy will be rolled out in two months and was necessary to chalk out a roadmap to implement the ministry’s development plans effectively.
“It is like we keep walking, but without clear direction. The policy will provide a better idea for the private sector and donors to assist us walk to the goal,” he said.
Chan Sophal, director for the Centre for Policy Studies, yesterday welcomed the new policy, however, said the successful implementation of the policy would depend on resource availability.
“The policy will hopefully enhance the quality and efficiency of government and non-government extension services. Successful implementation of the policy will depend on the resources committed by both the government and nongovernment sectors,” he said.