Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that since joining the government in December last year, he has had many opportunities to share his expertise in the field of rice production.

“Initially, I was assigned the task of coordinating cooperation between farming cooperatives and rice mills through agricultural contracts. In January, I was tasked with establishing model agricultural offices in 10 communes, as the basis for expanding the scheme throughout the Kingdom,” he said on May 15.

“On May 10, I was given the additional responsibility of leading the development of the entire rice sector, which covers the livelihoods of about two million farmers, as well as the food security of people across the country. I am also leading the development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Preah Vihear province. We aim to make this province a leader in the field of organic agriculture,” he added.

Saing Koma said he is continuing to mentor the officials in the 10 model communes, and the expansion of the plan.

“The ministry will work hard to develop mechanisms that respond to developments in the agricultural sector, including the establishment of farmers’ associations to avoid price gauging by middlemen traders. This will be done through the negotiation of agricultural contracts,” he said.

Din Sakhorn – president of the Trapeang Russey Cooperative in Trapeang Russey commune of Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district who has worked with Saing Koma since he was president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) – said he had learned a lot from CEDAC’s agricultural training, especially when it came to establishing a cooperative.

“My cooperative has made a lot of progress, especially in delivering stable rice prices to our members. When Saing Koma became an official of the agricultural ministry, we were pleased as he has an in-depth understanding of the rice farming industry,” he said.

Under the ministry’s “Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain programme (CAVAC)” project, Saing Koma explained that farmers earn reasonable prices for their crops, and millers are guaranteed quality standards that meet the demands of both domestic and export markets.