Agronomist Yang Saing Koma is one of six individuals, and the only Cambodian, to receive this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Koma will receive the award, often called Asia’s Nobel Prize, for his work empowering farmers as founder of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC).
The foundation acknowledged Koma’s “creative fusion of practical science and collective will”.
After observing Cambodia’s dependence on foreign NGOs, Koma founded CEDAC in 1997 to help Cambodians take development into their own hands.
“We put a lot of emphasis on building the capacity of the people, building their self-confidence, building their networks, giving them more and more leadership,” Koma told the Post yesterday. “I learn a lot from the farmers, and the farmers learn a lot from us.”
What began as “a small group of farmers” in Kandal is now Cambodia’s largest agriculture and rural development NGO, with initiatives in 21 provinces.
CEDAC is now working to reduce reliance on donors and expand small growers’ involvement in commerce and investment.
Koma is the fifth Cambodian to receive the award. Election expert Koul Panha won the award in 2011.
To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at [email protected]