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


title=Extension Providers


Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services in the Country

Public Sector

Cambodia public sector is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and its various technical departments including the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), the Royal University of Agriculture, several other universities and agricultural colleges, and research institutions around the country. These institutions provide some level of extension services through various departments and institutes some of which are listed below:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF
    • Department ofAgricultural Extension (DAE)
  • Ministry of Rural Development (MRD

Public Research and Education Institutions      Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)

  • Cambodia Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)
  • Royal University of Agriculture (RUA)
  • Moharussey Vedic University (MVU)
  • Prek Leap Agriculture College
  • Kampong Cham Agriculture College

Private Sector Firms

Private firms provide services in accordance with their specialized incentives and farmers respond in terms of what they see as most beneficial to them. Viewed in that light, private sector growth can be expected to be a driver for governance reform, given the importance of a transparent rules-based environment for investment. It is recognized that many development partners in Cambodia contribute to the development of the agriculture sector. The sector’s provision of extension and advisory services is noticeable in the areas of input supply to farmers; contract to provide technical advises to farmers associations and cooperatives. The largest contract rice farming operation in Cambodia is organized by Angkor Kasekam Roonroeung Co Ltd (AKR), a private Cambodian firm established in 1999. Its main business is to export non-certified organic Neang Malis (an aromatic Cambodian rice variety introduced by AKR) to the international market (Cai et al. 2008).

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors

In Cambodia, many NGOs are working in partnership with other stakeholder to provide agricultural extension and advisory services to farmers. NGOs and donor projects are involved in agricultural production and agribusiness supply chain development. Most interventions are focused near the farmer at the production level, with some recent efforts being implemented to improve the supply of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Following is a list of selected Cambodian NGOs and donor projects involved in agricultural production and agribusiness supply chain development.

  • AGRISUD Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey
  • Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (APIP)
  • Agricultural Quality Improvement Project (AQIP
  • Agricultural Sector Development Project
  • Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Extension Project (CAAEP)
  • Cambodia Agriculture Research and Development Institute – Assistance
  • Project (CARDI-AP)
  • Centre d’Etude et de Développement Agricole Cambodgienne (CEDAC)
  • International Development Enterprise (IDE)

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives

In Cambodia, a large number of smallholder families are deriving their livelihood from agricultural production. These farmers are organized in associations and groups around common interest like the production of a given agricultural crop or to pool their resources together and facilitate access to credit and farm inputs. Farmers associations are working to represent small group producers in the rural area. There are increasing success stories of farmer organizations including production groups, marketing groups, and water use groups. One of the prominent farmers associations is the Cambodian Farmers Association Federation of Agricultural Producers (CFAP). CFAP-Cambodia is working to represent small group producers in the rural Cambodia. The association holds its annual general meeting and National Farmers’ GA every two year attended by registered members, relevant stakeholders and observers.

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Cambodia. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.


title=Enabling Environment

 Enabling Environment

Cambodia is richly endowed with land, as well as substantial natural resources, notably forests and fisheries, and a wide variety of natural habitats and ecosystems, including upland and lowland forests, freshwater wetlands, and diverse riverine areas. The natural resources and weather conditions favor rice farming, but the country’s comparative advantage in rice farming has yet to be exploited. Rice production is mainly for self-sufficiency, and commercial rice exports are still at an early stage. The Royal Government of Cambodia has articulated its agricultural policy that emphasizes the need for increasing agricultural productivity and diversification. Although agricultural extension is key to improving productivity of famers, at present, agricultural research and extension services and systems in Cambodia have very weak linkages among the stakeholders, and there are few effective mechanisms in place to foster these links, as most occur on an ad hoc basis. The DAE has tried to develop strong formal linkages at national level with key government agencies, such as the departments of agronomy and land improvement, animal health and production, fisheries and of forestry, the agricultural college, the ministry of women's affairs and other lead agencies. To ignite rural development and productivity growth, the RGC and MAFF should consider decentralizing agricultural services to the district level, along with providing or building more capacity at district level



Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

The world is moving beyond the agricultural age and the industrial age, into the information age and the main engine of this age is information and communications technology. ICT allows information generated by the researcher to be more efficiently accessed by the extension worker so that it can be more effectively transferred to and applied by the farmer. For this reason, ICT could be the key drivers of future growth in Cambodia. The introduction of mobile phone, personal computers, and the web and internet kiosks to impoverished communities around the world especially in Cambodia is a way to employ ICT in rural development. Mobile services have been introduced in Cambodia and spread very rapidly to all parts of the country including rural areas. The 2009 World Bank statistics report indicated that 37.8 percent of the population of Cambodia own and operate a mobile phone.With mobile phone branching out beyond its origins as primarily voice-only device to be used for other services such as banking (paying bills, sending money, paying school fees), the technology could play a key role in extension services and information delivery. Internet usage is spreading out and agricultural extension system is using the technology to reach farmers. Less than 1 percent of the population had access to internet in 2009.



Training for Extension Professionals

Training agricultural professional increases the skills of extension staff in the field, and the lack of continuing education opportunities could constitute a drawback to the performance of agricultural extension agents in the field. Formal agricultural training is provided by the Royal University of Agriculture and Moharussey Vedic University, and current personnel taking on extension services are trained to work as general agricultural practitioners. In-service training is provided by the university which organizes a wide range of short training courses for staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, agricultural extension agents, other organizations involved as well as farmers.  The training departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) generally run ad hoc in-service training programs that do not prepare extension staff adequately to deal with complex agricultural problems.

Statistical Indicators                                                                                               

Cambodia                                                                                                                   Year

Agricultural land (sq km)



Agricultural land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares)



Arable land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares per person)



Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)



Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)



Food exports (% of merchandise exports)



Food imports (% of merchandise imports)



GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*



Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)



Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)



Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)



Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)









Internet users (per 100 people)









Population, total



Population density (people per sq. km of land area)



Rural population



Rural population (% of total population)



Agricultural population* 



Agricultural population (% of total population)*



Total economically active population in Agriculture*



Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*



Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*



Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO




Agrifood Consulting International. 2007. Cambodia Agriculture Sector Diagnostic Report.

Prepared for AusAID by Agrifood Consulting International and CamConsult. 12 June 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2011 from:

Cai, J., L. Ung, S Setboonsam, and P Leung. 2008. Rice Contract Farming in Cambodia: Empowering Farmers to Move Beyond the Contract toward Independence. ADB Institute Discussion Paper No. 109.

Sothath, N., and C. Sophal. 2010. Agriculture Sector and Services for Smallholder Farmers.

Budget Expenditure for Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fishery and Ministry of Wayer Resources & Meteorology 2005-2009. In Cooperation with the NGO forum on Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia.



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