In the coming weeks, specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will finalise the draft budget for the implementation of new commune level agricultural programmes, according to its secretary of state Yang Saing Koma. The government intends to put the programmes in place after the upcoming general election.

Saing Koma updated The Post on April 18 on the progress of planning between the ministry’s Department of Agricultural Extension and Germany’s development agency GIZ.

He said GIZ has worked with the department on several projects in the past, and was very interested in the commune level plans, which aim to place agricultural specialists in communes across the Kingdom.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen has set the goal of placing experts in up to 1,600 communes,” he said.

“We intend to establish a programme that responds to the needs of farmers and the agricultural sector. We will cooperate with development partners as required,” he added.

Saing Koma said he could not yet reveal how much money the programme would require, but hinted that the plan relied heavily on the national budget from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and funding from development partners, especially GIZ.

While presiding over the closing ceremony of the agriculture ministry’s March 24 annual meeting, the prime minister instructed the ministry to prepare a detailed plan to assign the specialists as soon as a new government has been formed after the coming July election.

He ordered provincial leaders to pay close attention to preparations for the implementation of the policy, especially in terms of details like providing suitable accommodation for the specialists.

The policy is currently being piloted in Kampong Cham, with agricultural experts posted to 10 of the province’s communes.