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Excellence in Agronomy highlights mechanized direct seeding in annual meeting

Banner Photo: Participants of the Excellence in Agronomy’s (EiA) annual meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

30 November 2022, Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The advantages, learnings, and constraints for mechanized direct seeding in Cambodia and the Southeast Asia region were on the spotlight at the Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) - Cambodia  annual meeting. The event was held in Phnom Penh on 30 November to 02 December 2022, and attended by more than 50 participants from the government, private sector, NGOs, as well as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). In his opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Hean Vanhan, Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), mentioned how the EiA initiative is an “important and aligned strand of work which the MAFF fully supports”. He further emphasized the urgent need for agronomic technologies that enable efficiencies in the face of the recent global crises which brought about spikes in input costs. Mechanized direct seeding is one option to help improve the rice productivity of farmers. The Royal Government of Cambodia also puts priority on climate adaptive practices and mechanization in agriculture.

H.E. Dr. Hean Vanhan, Secretary of State, MAFF during his opening remarks.

The first day of the event focused on research findings about mechanized Direct Seeded Rice (mDSR). Drs. Virender Kumar (IRRI), Tim Krupnik (CIMMYT), and Nguyen Van Hung (IRRI) shared key insights on agronomy and mechanization in the region, while Dr. Bob Martin (ASR Cambodia) and Mr. Som Bunna (CARDI) shared the research findings, potential for DSR and the major constraints in Cambodia.  On the same day, the participants had an activity to co-design the scaling strategy of EiA to enable widespread uptake of mDSR in the country. On the second day of the event, project partners planned for the activities of EiA in 2023-24.

Dr. Mak Soeun, Deputy Director, GDA-Cambodia during his closing remarks.

Participants had a field visit to Prey Veng province to observe the operation of mechanized seeders and to interact with farmers on day 3. During the field visit, Mr. Choun Saban of the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) - Prey Veng briefly discussed agricultural production in the province. One farmer also shared his experience on some of the mechanized direct seeding options. The participants were welcomed by the village chief, Mr. Pot Bo who is “happy that both IRRI and PDAFF are doing participatory demonstration trials in their village”. Dr. Rica Joy Flor of IRRI - Cambodia, meanwhile, underscored the importance of partnerships and learning and how IRRI is fortunate to work with PDAFF in the area.

To cap off the field visit, the participants observed a demonstration on the machines used for direct seeding in the area - Angkor and Eli seeders.

Participants observing a demonstration of the Angkor mechanized seeder.