Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina advised the implementers of the Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension and Agricultural Trade (ASPIRE-AT) to consider increasing the use of digital technology.

“It will allow key players in food production chains to exchange information quickly and accurately. This will save them time and money,” he said at the opening ceremony of the workshop to launch the programme last week.

Tina suggested that closer links between farmers and their markets would make it easier to ensure supply met demand, and would also help to standardise prices, which would benefit all parties.

“The agriculture ministry’s vision is to guarantee food security while promoting economic and environmental sustainability. This applies to every stage of production chain – from producers to markets – and covers exports as well as domestic supply,” he said.

“The ASPIRE-AT project should consider the use of technology in agriculture. Smart agriculture through the use of mobile phones and other modern technology will reduce costs,” he added.

He also said it was important that the feasibility of low-cost irrigation systems, such as drainage systems, solar systems and the use of low-cost night pumping is examined.

“More agricultural communities should be formed, and contract farming practises should increase. I would also like to see more low-interest loans becoming available to the Kingdom’s hard working farmers,” he added.

Theng Savoeun, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farming Communities, conceded that Tina’s ideas were sound. He said that the use of digital technology in the field would definitely bring benefits, but that additional training may be required.

“Employing new technology will save time and increase our yields,” he added.

The ASPIRE-AT project will run for seven years, and is partially funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) headquartered in Rome, Italy. The UN’s rural development agency will provide a concessional loan of $47.9 million for the project.

The programme aims to reduce poverty and vulnerabilities in rural Cambodia through building climate change resilience and stimulating the growth of agriculture inclusively and sustainably.

The programme covers the entire country and seeks to develop value chains in six agricultural produce areas: vegetables, chickens, cassava, cashew nuts, fresh fruit and fruit processing.