Pollination Across Borders - March 2015

Two Projects, One goal - Cambodian and Laotian farmers sharing knowledge on adapting to climate change

It is time for lunch, but the farmers’ study group near the long-yard bean garden are eager to learn. They jot down the formula to make organic pesticide, as well as for fertilisers that spur the growth of healthy food. Their Cambodian host, Ms. Kuy Sameun showed no sign of tiredness either as she, a model integrated farmer, told them all the tricks of organic farming they wanted to know.

“This is something new we can share with our farmers,” said Phonesavanh Sisavad, one of 25 representatives from the UNDP-supported project Improving the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector to Climate Change Impacts (IRAS) in Lao PDR. Sitting in the study group and taking notes, Phonesavanh has travelled from Lao PDR to Cambodia for a four-day study visit to learn about solar pumps, group mobilisation, and a climate change resilience technical package (particularly a seed purification system that enables farmers to select resilient crops themselves).

Supporting knowledge sharing across borders, farmers in Cambodia, as part of the National Adaptation Programme of Action Follow-Up (NAPA FU) project, supported by the Global Enviroment facility and the Government of Canada.  They have coordinated the study visit to help rural farmers in neighbouring Lao learn and gain experience with adaptation practice.

The challenges the farmers in Lao PDR are facing are similar to the challenges faced by Cambodian farmers, primarily a high frequency of extreme weather events such as flood and drought. The NAPA FU project is playing a central role in the promotion of climate resilient water management and agricultural practices in rural Cambodia, and has lessons to share.

Now in its second phase after receiving additional funding from Canada, the project works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Preah Vihear provincial department of agriculture to build climate-resilience by improving farming techniques and irrigation.

All farmers understand that pollination is a prerequisite for fertilisation - with the transfer of pollen from one flower to another.  Cross-project knowledge sharing creates a similarly fertile ground where new ideas arise through interactions between individuals, organisations and environmental factors. Innovative solutions are inspired through the cross-pollination of ideas.

“I’m happy receiving the knowledge and some best practices from the farmers and the Cambodian project team,” said Vilayphone Vorraphim, the Deputy-Director General of the Permanent Secretary's Office, and a member of the visiting team from Laos. She added that it is important that the farmers work together with the project, which in turn works closely with additional relevant departments to improve the agriculture sector.

The visiting delegation from the IRAS project in Lao PDR is made up of staff from the government, and representatives from the district and provincial level of the IRAS project. As part of the visit they are able to meet the beneficiaries of solar pump systems and home gardens, as well as the students and teachers who are benefiting from a solar water pump installed at the Kok Srolao primary school. The visit culminated with a Q&A session at the school on the effects of climate change.

“We try to establish a culture of sharing throughout the visit and other channels to increase the awareness and replication of the project’s best practices in other areas to promote the livelihood of the poor in the changing climate,” said Pinreak Suos, National Project Advisor of UNDP.

By sharing lessons learned in project pilot sites in Cambodia, Cambodian and Laotian farmers are enhancing their knowledge on adapting to climate change and creating a more fertile ground for growth.

Photos: Kek Naratevy/UNDP Cambodia