Cambodian Minister of Environment H.E. Dr. Say Samal has recently met with Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Cambodia, Ms. Rebekah Bell, to discuss continued collaboration and partnership for the benefits of rural communities and smallholder farmers.

According to a FAO’s press release issued on April 7, the meeting discussed options to ensure sustainable development for people living in Community Protected Areas (CPAs), as well as ongoing and future joint efforts to combat climate change and protection of the country’s ecosystems.

H.E. Dr. Say Samal emphasised that, “ensuring food security and economic development opportunities for people living in the CPAs is one of the ministry’s top priorities.”

H.E. Minister added that the ministry would like to work closely with FAO to support farmers living in these areas with an aim to secure their food and nutrition through adopting improved and sustainable agricultural practices and promoting home gardening, ecosystem restoration, sustainable forestry and eco-tourism.

He further added that, providing farmers with capacity to raise suitable breed of animals such as local pig, beef, buffalo, goat, and sheep is a key alternative livelihood option for farmers.

“These options will not only allow community people to increase their income and improve their livelihoods, but it can also effectively reduce forestry crime and conserve natural resources,” he explained.

Ms. Rebekah Bell stressed a strong commitment and confirmed that FAO stands ready to support the ministry in achieving its goal.

“We are excited about partnering with the Ministry of Environment towards broader and diversified livestock activities, forestry, ecosystem restoration and eco-tourism, as this is very crucial alternative livelihood opportunity for rural households, who are mainly dependent on land and natural resources for their subsistence and income,” said Ms. Bell.

She added that, “proper diversified agricultural livelihoods, including livestock, forestry and crop will ensure that the livelihoods of rural communities are more sustainable and resilient.”

In Cambodia, approximately 92 percent of the rural poor rely on natural resources such as land, fisheries, forests and clean water for their livelihoods. However, these resources are increasingly under threats. Partnering with rural communities is a pre-requisite to meet the forest and ecosystem conservation goal of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

There is a need to properly manage the agriculture production systems to reduce the negative impacts on the environment and ecosystems.

Climate change has impacted farmers and ecosystem goods and services that they rely on. Increased heat stress and reduced water availability can have a direct negative effect on agriculture production.

Unsustainable management of livestock grazing, particularly in important ecological areas, such as protected areas can have direct significant negative impacts through overgrasing of the understory, leading to reduced regeneration of trees and forests. In addition, livestock can disturb breeding grounds of birds, compete for food with wildlife, and possibly transmit diseases to wild cattle (such as gaur/ banteng).

Ms. Rebekah Bell explained that, “despite challenges, we can adopt some solutions for increasing productivity and safeguarding the environment such as a development of an appropriate intervention to use locally available, traditional feed resources to supplement production of smallholder farmers, specifically enhancing smallholder livestock farmers capacity in feed management, and an adoption of climate-smart livestock production practices, including use of crop residues for animal feed, improved manure management, as well as the reduction of waste along the value chain.”

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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