Cedac Promotes Better On-Farm Rice Seed Selection

An agricultural NGO announced yesterday it has started a campaign to inform farmers how to better select and store rice seeds from their harvests to produce higher rice yields in the following years.

Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said improved methods of selecting, removing and storing rice seeds by farmers could increase yields with as much as 20 percent.

“Normally farmers thresh the rice seed by force or by machine” before storing seeds, he said, explaining that Cedac recommended that farmers select the best rice ears–the upper part of the plant holding the grains–and remove them by hand before storing them.

“This is very simple, every farmer can do it,” Mr Saing Koma said, adding that Cedac was spreading information on seed selection through its field staff and farmers’ network.

Hean Vanhorn, deputy director-general of the general department of agriculture at the Agriculture Ministry, welcomed Cedac’s initiative. “It is a good recommendation for farmers,” he said, adding that his ministry was giving similar seed selection advice to farmers.

Mr Vanhorn said, however, that the government was pushing farmers to switch to buying company-produced rice seeds every year. “Rice seeds at the market have the best [quality] selection and it’s not too expensive,” he said.

According to Mr Saing Koma at least two thirds of all Cambodian farmers still produce seeds from their own harvest, while in most other Asian countries rice farmers buy seeds.

Mr Koma said Cedac was trying to enhance current selection practices rather than urging farmers to switch to company-produced seeds, as these selection improvements could match the yield increase from commercially produced seeds.

“We encourage them to use their potential. It’s better,” he said, adding this would also avoid making farmers dependent on companies for farm inputs.

Cheap Sary, a farmer at Kompong Speu province’s Chbar Mon City, said he had been improving his rice seed selection in similar fashion to Cedac’s recommendation for several years.

“Before selecting rice seed we get only 2.5 tons per hectare, but now it increased to three tons,” he said. “I think selection from our own rice is much better than seeds from the market.”


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