SEANAFE co-organizes AF roundtable discussion in Cambodia

SEANAFE convened a roundtable meeting among 10 representatives from government, nongovernment, and academic institutions aimed at exploring ways where agroforestry (AF) and payments for ecosystems services (PES) can provide enhancement to support the preparation and implementation of Cambodia’s National Action Plan to Combat Land Degradation (NAP) as well as address other key environmental concerns.Held at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh on 19-20 November 2009, the meeting was also meant to identify collaborative options, including the establishment of an agroforestry network in Cambodia, in implementing the NAP.As a signatory to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Cambodia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) is expected to finalize its NAP by 2011. In the process of preparing the NAP, a project on Building Capacity and Mainstreaming Sustainable Land Management (SLM) has been ongoing since 2008 with funding support from the UNDP Global Environmental Facility. It is expected to develop 10 bankable projects, enhance capacity of at least 300 government staff, and mainstream SLM into national and sectoral policies and development plans.

The meeting participants recognized the relevance of AF & PES in 4 major areas in Cambodia, namely: in the west which is characterized by open areas and high soil erosion; in the central which is dominated by rice-based farming system around the Tonlesap lake; in the east where slash and burn practices are prevalent, and in the northwest where soil fertility is very low. Thus, they suggested the following courses of action for MAFF’s consideration in preparing and implementing the NAP:

  • Speed up the completion of the sustainable land management study including a land use classification to help identify appropriate AF interventions
  • Consider and validate SLM related research results and available information from relevant organizations (universities, international research organizations, NGOs, etc.)
  • Conduct more awareness raising and capacity building activities (e.g., dialogues, workshops, cross visits/ study tours) on the development of the NAP to gain more stakeholders’ support in its implementation
  • Ensure effective research-extension linkage such as establishing and sustaining community-based projects on various SLM technologies including AF and PES in collaboration with relevant organizations such as ICRAF
  • Support the establishment of an AF network as MAFF partner in implementing agroforestry-related components of the NAP
  • Mainstream the NAP in university curricular programs and research activities so that students after graduation could provide the needed manpower to help implement and sustain the plan.

A special meeting with the State Secretary of MAFF, Mr. Uk Sokhonn, in the afternoon of 20 November 2009 was held to present the outputs of the roundtable discussion. He expressed interest, on behalf of MAFF, to work with ICRAF in relation to the development and implementation of the NAP and bring up the matter with the MAFF Minister. SEANAFE is expected to provide assistance in establishing an agroforestry network in Cambodia under the leadership of the Royal University of Agriculture.