cambodiaExtension activities in Cambodia began in 1957 when the agriculture ministry set up an extension unit that used television, radio and publications to disseminate information to farmers.

The civil war in the 1970s devastated the country’s economy and all agricultural extension infrastructures were destroyed. The provision of agricultural extension services to farmers returned in 1986 with an extension office within the Agriculture Ministry and then the department of agriculture extension (DAE) was established in 1995. With Australian assistance, the DAE developed national extension guidelines using a farming systems development approach rather than an emphasis on extension service. This requires having small agriculture teams with a range of skills in district offices.


A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities in Cambodia

Cambodian farming systems are largely subsistence oriented and are dependent on rainfed conditions thereby excessively exposing producers to production uncertainties. Most agricultural activity is based on low input and rain fed production systems centered on paddy rice production.

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has indicated in its Rectangular Strategy, which served as the foundation for the formulation of national planning, that its agriculture policy is “to improve agricultural productivity and diversification, thereby enabling the agriculture sector to serve as the dynamic driving force for economic growth and poverty reduction. The Agricultural Sector Strategic Development Plan 2006-2010 of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) outlined nine goal areas, and the constraints and actions to be taken in each of these areas. One of which is ensure food security for all people, increase income and improve livelihood for rural poor farmers by improving agricultural productivity and diversification of agriculture. Growth in agricultural output between 1994-2003 has been a result of economic reform within Cambodia, as well as an increased emphasis on exports of agricultural products; notably rubber, livestock, maize, soybeans and paddy (Agrifood Consulting International, 2006)

RGC-provided agricultural extension services for smallholder farmers are minimal. The availability of agricultural services for smallholder farmers is attributed predominantly to assistance from donors and NGOs. According to Sothath and Sophal (2010) the duplication of agricultural services provided by the government, donors and NGOs is common in villages, and there are also indications that services do not reach all households in need of extension advice within the same village. Although such duplication is not necessarily bad for farmers, it is not an indication of efficiency or of a fair distribution of resources/public services, as farmers in other parts of the country are still underserved. Given the limited coverage of extension services offered by private and civil society organizations, MAFF has made substantial efforts over the years to strengthen and expand public agricultural extension services.

The majority of agricultural personnel in Cambodia are working at the provincial level, with a small percentage of them assigned to district Offices of Agriculture, which have no annual budget to deliver agricultural services to farmers but work as counterparts on donor and NGO projects. The public extension comprises 1,244 staff members and is managed by a team of 58 senior staff according to the MEAS report (2011). Women account for 21% of senior management staff.  There are 66 subject matter specialists (26 % female) and 1,120 Field level extension workers. This last group constitutes the bulk of staff (90%). There are two other groups of workers: Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff and In-Service Training Staff.  The MEAS report indicated that the public sector does not employ in-service training staff, and ICT support services personnel (Table 1).

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Cambodia (Governmental Extension Organization)

Total Number of Extension Staff According to Gender



Senior Management Staff



Subject Matter Specialists (SMS)



Field Level Extension Staff



Total Extension Staff: 1,244



Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011