1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »K-State innovation lab helps establish consortium in Cambodia

K-State Today

June 29, 2020

K-State innovation lab helps establish consortium in Cambodia

Submitted by Layne Wilson

Kansas State University's Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification and multiple collaborating organizations have helped to launch Cambodia Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium, or CASIC. The consortium was recently approved by Cambodia's  Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The innovation lab was established at Kansas State University through funding from the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, to lead research, outreach and human and institutional capacity building activities related to sustainable agricultural intensification around the world. Collaborating organizations include the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification, or CE SAIN, and Nutrition at the Royal University of Agriculture, or RUA, in partnership with researchers, policymakers, donors, the private sector and practitioners in Cambodia. 

"The establishment and launch of CASIC — supported by multiple ministries of Cambodia — is a great example of the value and strength in collaborative partnerships," said Vara Prasad, university distinguished professor in the Department of Agronomy and the director of the innovation lab. "Ownership, leadership and support by the Royal Government of Cambodia and RUA is the first step toward the pathway of a journey for self-resilience, which is the key goal of the Feed the Future program of USAID. Such endeavors ensure the sustainability of the programs."

Prasad said Cambodia's agriculture has many challenges such as vulnerability to climate change, soil degradation and loss of biodiversity. At the same time, it has issues related to food insecurity, poverty and hunger. Therefore, conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification are necessary to meet the growing need and access for safe and nutritious food while improving the natural resources and protecting the environment.

"The partnership with Kansas State University has significantly strengthened the capacity of RUA and Cambodia on education, research and extension on conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification," said Bunthan Ngo, rector at the Royal University of Agriculture.

The consortium consists of several organizations, such as K-State, that have the motivation and drive to come together and meet on a regular basis to discuss the promotion of sustainable intensification practices in Cambodia.

"We are very grateful to KSU for their excellent partnership and RUA is leading the effort to transform the agri-food systems in Cambodia," said Lyda Hok, director of CE SAIN.

The mission of the consortium is to establish knowledge management of conservation agriculture-related resources for easy access by smallholder farmers, semi-commercial farmers, and agricultural cooperatives; create an enabling environment to boost investment in conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification; promote and enhance these practices and enhance collaboration between stakeholders.

"With this initiative focused on conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification, Cambodia will become the leader and be an example for other countries in Southeast Asia," said Manny Reyes, research professor in the innovation lab and CE SAIN coordinator. "Particularly with the engagement of youth and young leaders — it is possible to lead the way for a great future to feed our people and protect our planet."

Prasad said the launching of this consortium shows the great collaboration between the USAID and other international partners, and how K-State was instrumental in cultivating the collaborative relationships between RUA-CE SAIN and other partners in Cambodia.

"This initiative is one that K-State is proud to be part of and considers it a privilege to work alongside other partners and policymakers in developing this consortium in Cambodia," Prasad said. "There will be continued effort to support RUA, CE SAIN and all other partners."

SIIL is one of the largest Feed the Future Innovation Labs at K-State that are funded by the USAID. The SIIL works to identify innovations that help reduce global hunger, poverty and improve the nutrition of smallholder farmers across the globe. The CE SAIN helps to enhance the human and institutional capacity of RUA, and coordinate activities of Feed the Future Innovation Labs along with other programs funded by USAID in Cambodia. Read more information about RUA, CE SAIN and CASIC.