MANILA, Philippines --- The country's bid to become rice self-sufficient may not be realized yet.
Just recently, the Philippines government signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on rice trade with the Kingdom of Cambodia to pave the way for the National Food Authority (NFA) to import rice from that country for the next two years.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed that the MOA between the two governments was signed last April 4 by Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia Noe Wong and Cambodian Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh.
Ambassador Wong, in a brief speech at the signing ceremony, described the MOA as another step forward in efforts to further increase economic activity between the Philippines and Cambodia, which has emerged as a major regional producer of rice.
Minister Cham, for his part, expressed the hope that the MOA would help encourage broader trade between the two countries. He said that improvements of milling and storage facilities in Cambodia should help facilitate Cambodian rice exports to the Philippines.
The MOA opens the way for the NFA to import rice from Cambodia through Green Trade, a Cambodian public enterprise.
Rice is a staple food in the Philippines, and the same is true with its Asian neighbors.
Cambodia's success in rice farming can be attributed in large part to the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), founded by Yang Saing Koma in 1997.
A key aspect of CEDAC's success is the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which Koma introduced to just a handful of farmers in 2000. Simply put, SRI is effective plant-water-soil management that combines all farming good practices.
Over 100,000 Cambodian rice farmers now use SRI, which dramatically cuts down on the use of chemical fertilizers. Between 2002 and 2010, Cambodia's rice production ballooned from 3.82 million tons to 7.97 million tons.
Incidentally, Koma was given the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award last year for his contributions to farming technology in Cambodia.