Commune agriculture officials will continue receiving additional training and sharing work experiences monthly, despite being on mission at their respective posts, according to Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

He explained on January 22 that the ministry had already trained the first batch of 250 officials in late January. Plans are in place to recruit an additional 800 in March for the second phase, followed by a third in 2025, which aims to deploy 550 more.

“We initially trained our first group of commune agricultural officials at the ministry for two weeks. We then enhanced our training with a focus on rice production. Additionally, we will provide further training in the provinces where they are fulfilling their duties for two or three months before deploying them to individual communes,” Saing Koma said.

“When they begin working in the communes, regular training will continue on a monthly basis. This will allow them to review their lessons, reflect on their experiences and share insights with each other, thereby enhancing their effectiveness in implementation,” he added.

On January 19, he met for the first time with newly qualified commune officials in Takeo province. He urged them to demonstrate high levels of competence and responsibility in serving the farmers.

Saing Koma outlined that the officials will undergo a one-year internship before assuming full-time civil servant roles, receiving remuneration akin to a teacher’s salary. However, they will be required to remain in their designated positions.

Emphasising the importance of local training, he noted that all commune officials must undergo monthly training sessions, regardless of their tenure in the communes. 

He said the commitment ensures they remain connected with local farmers, understand their challenges and suggestions and timely address the community’s issues.

As the first 250 officials focus on rice production, Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF), expressed his enthusiasm about their imminent work with cultivators. 

He noted that having technical experts in close proximity will enhance their awareness.

Sokheang said that the government’s policy aligns with the private sector’s aspirations in the rice industry and addresses farmers’ needs.

“The presence of commune agriculture officials is crucial. I am hopeful and confident that these officials, aiding farmers in rice production, will significantly assist them in technology, marketing and other key aspects of the rice sector. 

“The support is expected to further establish our country as a major producer and exporter of agricultural products, particularly rice, to international markets,” he told The Post.

According to the ministry, successful candidates who pass the exam will undergo an internship and be categorised as A, B or C based on their training level. They will receive a minimum salary of 1.4 million riel ($343.88) in each category, along with a monthly allowance of 160,000 riel ($39.30) and other civil servant benefits.

It said the deployment of technical officials across the country is part of the sixth priority political programme, aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and supporting families in promoting their products.

The fifth priority political programme, focusing on coordination mechanisms and financing, seeks to elevate production and market balance for key agricultural products. This involves introducing specific budgets, starting from $100 million, which can be increased as needed. 

The initiative aims to purchase products from farmers at stable prices during each harvest season, particularly for commodities like rice, mango, turmeric, lentils, cashew, potato, corn and other necessary products, as per the ministry.