Cambodia and IRRI
As a result of food shortages in the late 1970s, many farmers were forced to eat their rice seed and traditional varieties were lost. In the 1980s, IRRI reintroduced 766 traditional Cambodian rice varieties to Cambodia from its seed bank in the Philippines—a vivid demonstration of the foresight that created the bank in the 1960s. In 2016, Cambodia and IRRI mark their 30th year of partnership.
In 1985, Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) requested IRRI to assist in developing Cambodia’s rice research system. An IRRI mission to Cambodia in January 1986 identified potential areas of cooperation and aid. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for collaboration was signed between the two partners in July of the same year. Progress in research and institutional development was soon established to improve the potential for a rice-based farming system in Cambodia. In 2016, Cambodia and IRRI mark their 30th year of partnership.
But IRRI and Cambodia’s partnership started long before the inking of formal ties in 1986. Six Cambodian scientists were trained at IRRI between 1960 and 1973. One studied plant breeding, the others studied rice production. Only two of the six survived the civil war that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
IRRI collected different types of rice in Cambodia between December 1972 and January 1973 and conserved duplicates of the country’s rice diversity in the International Rice Genebank located in IRRI headquarters in the Philippines.
As a result of food shortages in the late 1970s, many farmers were forced to eat their rice seed. Traditional varieties were also lost. Between 1981 and 1990, IRRI helped Cambodia regain its lost rice varieties by repatriating 766 traditional varieties, which had been kept safe in the International Rice Genebank.
During the celebration of the International Year of Rice in 2004 in Phnom Penh, representatives from the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO), and AusAID acknowledged the crucial role that IRRI played in helping the country attain national food security.
A famous Cambodian rice, Phka Rumduol, was chosen as the “World’s Best Rice” at three consecutive The Rice Trader World Rice Conferences— Bali in 2012, Hong Kong in 2013, and Phnom Penh in 2014. Phka Rumduol was developed through support from the Cambodia-IRRI-Australia project. It was released as a variety by CARDI in 1999.