Advancing Sustainable Agriculture: MetKasekor’s Pathways to the Future

Community |

On October 10th, a pivotal meeting centered around the Sustainability Strategy for MetKasekor was organized by the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and was attended by 32 participants. The meeting aimed to share the implementation experiences and present its historical context and progress and to showcase the model's structure. Additionally, the meeting aimed to unveil the innovative three pathways approach, fostering vibrant discussions on its implementation. MetKasekor, a conservation agriculture-extension model, has been under the ownership and guidance of the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (DEAFF). The momentum of its implementation has steadily grown since 2021 and is also supported by the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in Battambang and Preah Vihear (PDAFFs). A striking testament to MetKasekor's impact is the engagement with over 4,500 smallholder farmers across 17 villages in 4 districts of Battambang and Preah Vihear provinces. This collaboration has witnessed more than 400 farmers embracing conservation agriculture on a sprawling expanse of 1,600 hectares. The resounding success in these provinces fuels the aspiration to extend MetKasekor's reach to other agriculturally potent provinces, thereby empowering smallholder farmers with knowledge and technologies to enhance soil quality, boost productivity, and increase income.

MetKasekor has been primarily supported by CIRAD, CE SAIN, Swisscontact, and Kansas State University since 2021. The endorsement by PDAFFs of Battambang and Preah Vihear and the involvement of organizations like Conservation Agriculture Research for Development Center (CARDEC) have been pivotal in steering the model towards its current triumphs. The guidance of the MetKasekor Steering Committee, led by H.E. Dr. CHAN Saruth, Chair of the Executive Board of CASIC, has also played a crucial role. However, as the model evolves, the focus shifts to ensure its sustainability. For this purpose, three distinct pathways were discussed: Pathway 1: Funded through DEAFF, this approach relies on technical and financial support from the department's annual budget planning. Pathway 2: This pathway involves support from the Provincial budget, where financial assistance is provided by the respective provincial governors through their annual budgets. Technical implementation is then carried out by the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (PDAFF). Pathway 3: Drawing on the Skills Development Fund (SDF) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), this pathway entails possible financial support through a budget proposal by DEAFF. Once approved by SDF, DEAFF would extend technical assistance to the relevant PDAFFs working closely with the Agriculture Cooperatives (Acs) and other private sector actors. Notably, MetKasekor synergizes with two parallel government initiatives: KropouchKasekor (Department of Crop Seeds), promoting cover crops, and SevaKasekor (Department of Engineering), endorsing agroecology machinery and services and the provision of the no-till services. These two initiatives will work hand in hand with MetKasekor. As the meeting unfolded, stakeholders from various departments directly under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) and the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) participated in concrete discussions on each pathway to seek the future direction for MetKasekor. Looking ahead, MetKasekor's expansion plans encompass four new provinces, slated for the year 2025. These provinces—Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, and Kampong Thom—will enjoy dedicated support, either through the Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA) program by Swisscontact or the WAT4CAM program (Phase 1) by MoWRAM and MAFF, backed by AFD and EU. Meanwhile, Battambang and Preah Vihear will continue to be nurtured by DEAFF's support, alongside technical guidance from CARDEC.