Summit on the efficient and profitable use of rice straw held in Cambodia

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To discuss ways to maximize the use of rice straw for the benefit of rice producers and promote innovative solutions to enhance climate resilience and productivity, the Rice straw-based circular economy for improved biodiversity and sustainability (RiceEco) project and the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas (AMD) co-organized the Summit on the efficient and profitable use of rice straw in Cambodia from January 31 to February 1, 2024.

The summit comprised two events: a training on mechanized rice straw composting and a forum on the experiences for use of rice straw and other bio-circular economy options.

Held at Udom Sorya Agriculture Cooperative (AC) in Takeo, the training on mechanized rice straw composting was attended by agricultural cooperatives from Takeo, Prey Veng, Kandal, and private sectors. The event was chaired by Mr. Nhep Srorn, director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (PDAFF) of Takeo, together with Dr. Nurmi Pangesti, Country Representative for Cambodia of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

As the resource person, Dr. Nguyen Van Hung, a scientist at IRRI and lead of RiceEco, emphasized that converting rice straw into compost will add economic value to it and benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving soil health, among other benefits. He also stressed that the mechanized composting process will improve the quality of the compost and reduce the labor cost compared to manual composting.

The Udom Sorya AC in Takeo is a partner of IRRI in making rice straw compost. Together, they have completed the production of 5 tons of rice straw compost. During the workshop, they showcased the mechanized straw composting process using a machine that speeds up the process and reduces the labor needed for making the compost. With this machine, Udom Sorya AC can produce up to 20 tons of compost in 45 days.

On the second day of the summit, a forum on the experiences for use of rice straw and other bio-circular economy options was conducted in Phnom Penh. Following the sharing of information, the stakeholders had a workshop on the knowledge or capacity gaps that they need to work on the use of rice straw for a bio-circular economy.

Dr. Rica Flor, IRRI expert on innovation systems, led the workshop on the assessment of capacity gaps and defining ways forward for the multi-stakeholder group to learn together to improve straw utilization and sustainable agriculture in the country. The participants identified the capacity building or training needs which the projects of IRRI can potentially address. Furthermore, a workshop on business models was also conducted for the participants to plan their work on rice straw.

The forum was attended by officials from the different agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the private sector, university researchers, and farmer group representatives.

The RiceEco project, funded by the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund, is implemented to prototype and catalyze a rice straw-based circular economy. In addition, AMD promotes innovative solutions to enhance climate resilience and productivity. For implementation of the two projects in Cambodia, IRRI is collaborating with partners from Cambodian Agriculture Research Institute, the General Directorate of Agriculture, PDAFF of Takeo, Prey Veng, and Kandal.

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