A new agriculture scholarship and research grant were launched yesterday with the aim of nurturing local expertise by providing students opportunities to pursue graduate degrees and conduct research.
The new programmes, which will make $346,000 available in research opportunities, are supported by the US’s Feed the Future Initiative through the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN).
Fellows will conduct research on innovative agricultural technologies in technology parks spread across five provinces. Studies based on this research will be made public and will be accessible to farmers and agriculture companies.
Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Cambodia is in great need of human capital to move the agriculture sector forward and that the new scholarships will help build the kind of expertise the kingdom needs.
“We cannot overlook the importance of the human capital in this sector,” Mr Sakhon said. “These programmes are in line with the ministry’s goal to increase agriculture production, ensure food security and improve agribusiness development for rural farmers.”
Mr Sakhon said he expected studies derived from research supported by the programmes to be of great benefit to farmers, members of the academia, government agencies, NGOs and citizens in general.
William Heidt, the US Ambassador to Cambodia, giving the opening remarks during the launching ceremony for the programmes, said young scientists are finding Cambodia-specific solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture sector.
“One of the next key challenges is developing the horticulture sector as part of overall agriculture diversification,” Mr Heidt said.
“It’s very clear that Cambodia will remain a country that depends on agriculture for economic growth and poverty alleviation for the foreseeable future. And despite a great deal of progress in Cambodia agriculture, there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of room for innovation.
“Agriculture is not much different than the manufacturing, tourism, or technology sectors. Cambodia needs smart, young and dedicated people,” Mr Heidt added.
“Farmers who wants to learn about agricultural developments can visit. We are open to all,” said CE SAIN director Hok Lyda.