Minister of Civil Service Hun Many has announced a new recruitment drive to appoint 250 commune agriculture officials across 17 provinces, marking the first step in executing the government’s priority policy for its seventh mandate and addressing the need for technical officials in local areas.

The recruitment committee has initiated the selection process, inviting candidates with a Bachelor’s or Associate degree or equivalent qualification to apply. These officials will be deployed within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries framework and are expected to commence their duties in early January 2024, as per an October 31 statement from the civil service ministry.

The application process stipulates that candidates must commit to their allocated workplace – be it at the commune, district or provincial level – and that any subsequent request to change this placement will result in forfeiture of their position within the civil service.

According to the announcement, successful candidates will earn a starting salary of at least 1.4 million riel (roughly $340), with an additional allowance of 160,000 riel ($39) per month along with other benefits.

Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state at the agriculture ministry, noted the enthusiasm many people have for the upcoming examination, scheduled for the second week of December.

“We’ve chosen to recruit the initial 250 officials in rice production areas, recognising it as a vital crop for both local and international markets. With over 1,000 of the 1,652 communes in the region engaged in cultivation of the commodity, it’s essential to begin with this sector,” he explained in a November 1 statement.

He added that subsequent recruitment phases would target officials specialised in horticulture and agro-industrial crops, hinting at future initiatives focusing on cashew production.

Ly Voleak, an alumnus of the Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture and currently a civil servant, expressed a keen interest in applying for the position in his native Tbong Khmum province.

He lauded the government’s policy for its potential to assist farmers by providing market information and addressing agricultural challenges.

“Some people consistently criticise agricultural students without realising that our farm products struggle in the market due to a shortage of experts,” he said.

He encouraged fellow graduates to seize the opportunity to contribute to the country’s development.

The government’s policy sets a plan to deploy 1,600 commune agricultural officials to aid 1.6 million farmers, impacting 7.5 million people across all communities from 2023 to 2028.