PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—The Royal Government of Cambodia signed an agreement with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to further strengthen the country’s rice sector through research and training.
IRRI Director General Matthew Morell and Cambodian Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.E. Ouch Borith signed the agreement on 27 July in Phnom Penh. The signing ceremony is part of the celebration of 30 years of partnership between Cambodia and IRRI.
The signed agreement brings the enduring partnership to a new level after three decades of scientific collaboration to help the country achieve production levels that not only satisfy the domestic demand for rice, but also enable Cambodia to serve as a significant rice exporter. The advances also help strengthen Cambodia’s resilience in coping with the challenges brought by climate change, rapid population growth, and dwindling natural resources.
Currently, Cambodia and IRRI are conducting joint research projects on climate change adaptation and mitigation, climate-resilient rice varieties, remote sensing-based crop monitoring, improvement of farmers’ livelihoods, and postharvest technology. Many Cambodian researchers are also benefiting from IRRI’s training and capacity-building activities.
The historical partnership began in 1986 when M.S. Swaminathan, then IRRI director general, met with Cambodian Prime Minister H.E. Hun Sen, following a request from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to help develop the country’s rice research system. In July 1986, a memorandum of understanding between the two parties was signed. With funding from the Australian Agency for International Development, MAFF created the Cambodia-IRRI-Australia Project in 1987.
The 30th anniversary celebration was followed by the Southeast Asia Regional Consultation Workshop on IRRI’s 10-year strategic plan and the first annual review of the USAID-funded project, Accelerating the Adoption of Stress-tolerant Rice Varieties by Smallholder Farmers in Nepal and Cambodia.