With high-quality rice seed indispensable for enhancing the quality of each variety, Jica’s Rice Seed Production and Promotion Project (RSPP) strives to improve such standards in Cambodia.
The project – started in October 2017 – is being run in cooperation with the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).
The overall objective of the RSPP is to produce more quality rice seeds and promote them to farmers so they can produce higher yields.
The RSPP highlights the following three main activities – upgrading the capacity of the farmers involved, introducing a rice seed inspection and certification system, and growing the rice seed business.
In its third year, the project focuses on establishing the Quality Declared Seed (QDS) system as one significant pillar.
The QDS system, unlike an ordinary comprehensive system of seed quality control, inspects only 10 per cent of the seed production areas and the harvested seeds to maximise the use of limited human and financial resources.
The QDS system consists of documentation screening, field inspections and quality checks.
Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) staff are in charge of all inspections at the provincial level, while GDA staff supervise them nationally.
The Department of Crop Seeds at the GDA was officially established to supervise and promote the QDS system.
Responding to the organisational setup, the project invited PDAFF staff from all provinces for a “train the trainers” course to provide QDS inspectors with the necessary skills.
The field training provided effective methods for removing weeds, identifying off-types and inspection judgement. The laboratory training demonstrated the quality inspection technique, including using light to detect inert matter on each seed.
To effectively promote the QDS system, the RSPP also employs the Seed Business Model, which nominates an agricultural cooperative (AC) as lead to act as a bridge between seed producers and the market.
In the business model, the lead AC acts as QDS candidate, seed processor and marketer, while neighbouring ACs supply it with rice seeds.
The RSPP began supporting lead ACs in Prey Veng and Takeo provinces not only on the production methods, but also on business management.
In addition to such support, the project has hosted business forums in Prey Veng, Takeo, and Battambang provinces to boost the rice seed business nationwide.
At the forums, seed producers and distributors can create a direct linkage for seed transactions, with both parties able to share frontline business information.
The focused supporting area in the business model is gradually shifting from production – which the lead ACs and their counterparts became familiar with – towards the business management side they still need to improve on.
The lead ACs also need to enhance their skills in analysis and keeping financial records, as well as in stock management.
with manuals and videos on the system being completed in collaboration with the other development partners, the project urges the digitalisation of the QDS system procedures. This is to enhance the operational sustainability of the system even under the unexpected circumstances, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The RSPP will continue its endeavours to promote high quality rice seeds to more rice producers using the QDS system.