Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina urges the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) to focus on partnering with businesses to monetise the creation of different varieties of rice to create new income streams.

Tina made the call during a meeting with the leadership and officials of CARDI on January 16.

“Our research focuses on economic efficiency. If there is economic efficiency, we explain that it is economically efficient so everyone can do it. But we only talk about technical efficiency. Finally, the production process is harder than the normal one,” he said.

He added that working only with development partners who are donors and only within the state framework, even after 10 years, would not lead anywhere. He cited as an example that in five more years there could be another five new rice varieties produced.

Scientists from CARDI, he noted, have developed human resources, techniques and achievements successfully and are pursuing this mission. He is optimistic that the Institute will be able to work in partnership with businesses in agriculture to generate income on its own.

“When we have our own income, it is not difficult to compete. There is no need to look for civil servants to attract people to do it,” he stated.

Tina told the CARDI leadership to set up a clear project on taking care of agricultural crops and a project to make the economy sustainable.

Orn Chhourn, deputy head of the Plant Breeding Division at CARDI, said that in the past year, the ministry – through the institute – released a new variety of rice called Champey Sar 70 to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Australia.

He recalled that Champey Sar 70 – bred from Phka Rumduol with CNi9024 – took nine years to breed from 2013. The short-term rice variety has a growth period of 90-95 days, which is favourable for farmers to reduce costs such as by pumping water and use less fertiliser than long-lived rice varieties and so farmers benefited economically.

He said CARDI is now producing genetically-pure seeds to supply local communities for the production of subsequent generations of certified Champey Sar 70.

“Once we’ve looked over the first-generation seeds, we’ll supply them to the communities to grow at a large scale,” he said, noting that only subsequent generations will by milled and processed for human consumption.

Chhourn continued that Champey Sar 70 could be grown two to three times a year and could be supplied throughout the year, though its taste was not as good as Phka Rumduol.

He said Champey Sar 70 is similar to the Sen Kra’op rice variety in terms of its flavour and farmers can get over four tonnes of yield per hectare. The rice variety was grown in different atmospheres and is more resistant to climate change as well.