Five primary organisations and additional partners will back the creation of a national chapter of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) for the Kingdom, a joint press release said on June 25.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Agriculture, Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), Wildlife Conservation Society, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Cirad) and Swisscontact have penned a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to this end, the release said.

“Through the national chapter, the five core partner organisations and additional members in Cambodia will work with the stakeholder community to develop a National Interpretation Guideline based on the global SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation – including decision making tools and quantitative sustainability impact indicators,” it said.

They will also “develop and promote outreach models that enable large scale adoption of climate-smart best practices with broad participation and leadership from all actors throughout the value chain, government agencies and non-profit organisations.

“Cambodia has been well represented right from the early development of the SRP, with [directorate chief Ngin Chhay] attending [the] SRP’s global plenaries since 2015 and many Cambodian rice millers and exporters, organisations and development partners attending since,” it added.

At the signing, Chhay thanked all private and development partners for their roles in setting up the national SRP chapter and enhancing it.

“The SRP definitely fits to Agriculture Sector Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023 on promoting agricultural productivity, diversification, competitiveness and commercialisation ‘growing for the markets’.

“The SRP standard should be applied as much as possible in every rice production ecosystem in Cambodia for improving rice productivity, assuring food safety and increasing profitability in a sustainable manner for supplying in the competitive global markets,” he said in the release.

SRP executive director Wyn Ellis congratulated the directorate and other parties on this “important milestone”, and lauded the partnership, which he said would further elevate the Kingdom’s rice to wider international acclaim.

“Cambodia has significant opportunities to build its position as an important global player in sustainable rice. For example, Cambodia’s award-winning [Phka Romduol] rice offers an excellent fit for global brands and retailers.

“With SRP-verified rice already on the market in Europe, we are seeing rapidly increasing demand from retailers and brand owners who are increasingly seeking high quality sustainable rice.

“The commitment of all parties to the Cambodia National Chapter will play a key role in delivering the benefits of sustainable rice to farmers, businesses and the environment,” he was quoted as saying.

According to the release, Cambodian stakeholders held the first coordination meetings in 2016, the same year that the world’s first pilot tests of the SRP standard and performance indicators were carried out, in the northern provinces of Kampong Thom and Battambang.

CRF president Song Saran expressed full support for the MoA, which he lauded as a joint programme between public institutions, development partners and the private sector that would benefit all parties involved, and especially help farmers and consumers.

The agreement would “further boost the Cambodian rice sector as part of the CRF’s strategy of market diversification” and provide the Kingdom’s smallholder farmers the freedom to raise prices, while also “take into account the environment”, he said.