The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), is implementing renewable agriculture initiatives to promote low-carbon farming and enhance the resilience and sustainability of agricultural activities, including rice cultivation.

During the 4th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Summit titled “Regenerative Agriculture Practices Towards Low Carbon Farming” held on February 28, ministry secretary of state Yang Saing Koma emphasised that these practices are integral to the ministry’s long-term vision.

He said this encompasses food security and economic and environmental sustainability.

“Amru Rice [Cambodia] Co Ltd intends to collaborate with 50,000 farmers across 100,000ha, aspiring to achieve sustainable rice cultivation and counter climate change, particularly through low-carbon farming. This is the goal we have set for 2023, aiming for carbon neutrality,” he stated.

Saing Koma noted that the country, rich in natural resources, geography and climate, has faced challenges due to its history.

He highlighted that over 28 per cent of Cambodian farmers, approximately 1.09 million households, own less than 1ha of farmland. Additionally, 11 per cent of farmers, over 450,000 families, are engaged in farming through land rental.

“Both groups of farmers are highly vulnerable due to elevated production costs. They are unable to produce rice in large quantities; therefore, we focus on enhancing the quality and value of their produce. Standards such as the Sustainable Rice Platform [SRP], organic rice standards and renewable agriculture guidelines are crucial in adding value, especially for smallholder and sub-tenant farmers,” he explained.

Chan Sokheang, president of the CRF – the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body – reflected on the uniqueness of this year’s summit, previously held three times in Siem Reap province. 

He said this year’s forum was focused on climate change, under the theme “Regenerative Agriculture Practices towards Low Carbon Farming”.

He added that the theme is designed to increase awareness about renewable agriculture, aiming to make cultivation practices more resilient and sustainable.

He said the ultimate goal is to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions from 2030 onwards.

“Promoting sustainable agricultural standards and renewable agriculture is crucial in enhancing the global appeal of Cambodian rice. Our [fragrant] rice has already achieved significant recognition, winning the Best Rice Awards five times in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2022 for Phka Rumduol and the China-ASEAN Gold Award in 2023 for Sen Kra’op [SKO] 01,” Sokheang said.

“We are committed to raising awareness among communities and stakeholders about the importance of adhering to technical standards for renewable agriculture and sustainable rice farming. These practices are key to agricultural development, particularly for rice, ensuring sustainability and environmental friendliness through low carbon emission principles. Additionally, we are exploring new global initiatives such as green funds and financing,” he added.

Sokheang emphasised that the programmes are fundamental to achieving the goal of exporting one million tonnes of milled rice by 2025, while simultaneously improving the business environment in terms of profitability, resilience and inclusivity.