SRI Project to Help Farmers with Climate Change

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PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – A project on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB) countries  aims to contribute towards  the 2015  goal of exporting 1 million tons of rice and alleviating poverty and hunger.
The  project is  led by the  Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), sponsored by the European Union (EU), partnered with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Oxfam America in  collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and is aimed at enhancing the resilience of rain-fed regions facing climate change in LMB countries, namely Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
The National Inception and Planning Workshop on S.R.I project was held at at a local hotel here  and was attended by approximately 30 participants from the  Department of Rice Crop, SRI Secretariat, NGOs, development partners (AIT, FAO, and Oxfam), and other stakeholders. 
Ms. NIna Brandstrup, the FAO Representative, said the project can be a part of the achievement of the government’s rice exporting target.
“Rain-fed lowland rice areas constitute about 60-70 percent of the total cultivated areas. This project allows smallholders to gain sophisticated knowledge and approaches. This is a very timely project because the farmers will gain the skills needed in response to the resilience of climate change and other challenges through farmers’ participatory actions.
Ms. Nguyet Bao Dang, Regional Policy Advisor of Oxfam, said that the project will build capacity for smallholders to take adoptive measures to withstand climate change and  increase their crops resilience capacity, increase  food security as a result, increase the income  of the smallholders, the yield of rice production, and improve the quality of rice production by S.R.I,. This will go hand in hand in achieving the target of exporting  one million tons of rice by  2015.
The Director of the Department of Rice Crop (DRC), Mr. Ngin Chhay said the royal government of Cambodia prioritizes the  agricultural  sector because it plays an important role in securing food production, increasing the living standard of Cambodian farmers, and providing jobs to local people.
He  added that  SRI farming method was introduced a long time ago. Statistics for 2012 revealed that  around 11,000 farmers  practiced S.R.I  in their farming habits. Surveys from 24 provinces in Cambodia showed that farmers using S.R.I  were able to produce 3.9 ton per hectare, more than 1.0 ton increase compared to traditional rice practice. 
Three provinces were chosen to be the  model for  the project:  Takeo, Kampong Speu, and Kampot. The project will be carried out in 4 LMB countries with  a  fund of 3.4 million Euros for the period of  five years, starting from January 2013.
 The objective is to develop location specific technology using the principle of S.R.I and Farmer’s Field School platform.

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