Conservation Agriculture (CA) initiatives in Cambodia have been focused primarily on cropping system design, soil fertility assessment, agricultural engineering, rather than commercial practice. CA was more in the domain of the government and research organizations rather than in the land and farms. Therefore, to turn CA into a commercial venture, there is a need for all market actors including; farmers, seeds/crop providers, agriculture cooperatives, tractor owners, middlemen (brokers), manufacturing workshops, training institutions, financial institutions, retailers and input suppliers etc. to come together.
It is difficult for only one institution to work and create a market, hence a collective effort is needed. However, bringing all these market actors together is challenging due to various issues, including communication gap, lack of access to CA resources and government policies that do not necessarily have policies for commercialization of CA. Therefore, a consortium such as CASIC will work on addressing these issues in order to make CA more accessible to farmers through the market actors offering the services. CASIC consists of a group of organizations who have the incentives to come together and meet on a regular basis to discuss the promotion of CA practices in Cambodia through 4 main components - Knowledge Management, Networking and Coordination, Promotion, and Research. CASIC aims to create a diverse network of organizations that have interest in CA, which can address the issue of ‘lack of awareness’ by promoting CA practices, creating demand for CA machinery and implements and bridging the gap between the private sector and the farmers. CASIC is NOT an implementing organization. It only serves as a platform for the members to create network with other organizations that are involved in CA and have access to the resources and repository of the Consortium in order to promote CA practices in Cambodia
CASIC was established under the leadership of MAFF and governed by a Steering Committee chaired by MAFF with members from Ministry of Interior (MoI), Ministry of Environment (MoE), Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MoWRAM), and Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC). The Steering Committee plays a crucial role in leading, directing, and supervising the progress of CA & SI and agroecological development in Cambodia, with main responsibilities in reviewing, monitoring, and approving action plans, budget and reports of CASIC.
At the implementation level, CASIC is led by an Executive Board chaired by MAFF and consisting of representatives from the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) and the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) as the vice chairs, and members from the Department of Agricultural Engineering (DAEng), the Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management (DALRM), the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF), Swisscontact and CIRAD. The main responsibilities of the Executive Board are to develop and monitor the implementation of action plans, advice and facilitate all CA & SI and agroecology related activities, liaise, and collaborate with relevant government agencies, development partners, private sector and other stakeholders in CA & SI and agroecology related interventions.
The Executive Board of CASIC is supported by a Secretariat, which assists and supports the overall operation of CASIC and internal coordination across four sub-committees, namely (1) Knowledge Management, (2) Coordination and Networking, (3) Promotion, and (4) Research for Development (R4D). Each of the sub-committees is led by different government institutions and co-led/supported by either a private sector or development organization. Each sub-committee has specific roles and responsibilities (as outlined below). CASIC serves and supports the members of its sub-committees and does not implement any activities under the functions and authorities of its members.
- Sub-committee on Knowledge Management, led by CE SAIN/RUA, is responsible for developing a repository of all relevant data, information, and knowledge regarding CA & SI and agroecology, as well as a one-stop center for relevant stakeholders to access to such repository.
- Sub-committee on Coordination and Networking, led by DAEng with support from Swisscontact, is responsible for identifying and connecting CA & SI and agroecology related stakeholders and market actors to pool together all available resources which will further strengthen CA & SI and agroecological development.
- Sub-committee on Promotion, led by DEAFF with support from Swisscontact, is responsible for activities that will support research, trainings, and CA & SI and agroecology related practical support at the local communities.
- Sub-committee on Research for Development (R4D), co-led by DALRM and CARDI with support from CIRAD, is responsible for bringing together several research organizations active in the field of CA & SI and agroecology to identify research priorities (cropping systems, cover crops, mechanization, and water management), to improve the visibility of scientific knowledge and to bring science-based evidence to support policy dialogue (MAFF, MoE and NCSD) and engagement of private sector, and to support the improvement of infrastructures and resources at Bos Khnor.
In addition, the Executive Board also receives support from the Technical Reference and Support Unit, which will consist of a number of experts and professionals from various organizations. Some of the organizations that will be asked to part of the Unit include CIRAD, Swisscontact, European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF), US CA Association, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), FAO, UN CSAM, China Institute for Conservation Tillage (CICT), etc. On the other hand, CASIC keeps liaising with key Development Partners including AFD, USAID, SDC, EU, FAO, and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), etc., who have been active in supporting CA & SI and agroecological development in Cambodia and the region.