Evaluation at FAO

FAO and the Royal Government of Cambodia discuss the way forward for FAO’s support to agricultural development in Cambodia


On 31 October, Mr Masahiro Igarashi, Director of the FAO Office of Evaluation (OED) met with H.E. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The occasion was the presentation of the recently concluded evaluation of FAO’s Country Programme in Cambodia.

The FAO Country office in Cambodia organized a stakeholder’s workshop in Phnom Penh to present the evaluation’s findings, conclusions and recommendation. The evaluation exercise was led by OED and focused on the period of 2014-2018.

In light of the evaluation findings, this workshop was an important opportunity to gather all inputs, suggestions and recommendations, particularly on what FAO could and should do to contribute to the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and in close liaison with other partners to deliver results that contribute to the effective and sustainable development of the country. The inputs gathered will inform the next Country Programming Framework (CPF) 2019-2023, currently under development. This CPF, aligned with the government priorities, will guide FAO’s actions in the upcoming cycle of implementation.

The evaluation found that FAO’s mandate continues to be of relevance in Cambodia, as the country moves forward on its trajectory to attain middle-income country status by 2030, but FAO needs to further leverage this mandate effectively. FAO has a clear comparative advantage as a trusted purveyor of data and technical advice. The government counterparts and MAFF in particular, acknowledged that FAO is a trusted partner of the Royal Government of Cambodia, commenting, “no one is above FAO on technical competencies regarding agricultural techniques.” However, as Cambodia’s economy rapidly develops, there are implications for FAO and the UN system on how they can support a more inclusive form of development towards the goal of “leaving no one behind” enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The stakeholder workshop offered an opportunity to consider the future role of FAO and the UN system together with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other stakeholders in this context.  Mr Alexandre HYUNH, FAO Representative in Cambodia noted “by working closely with the MAFF, FAO Cambodia has committed to supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to attain an inclusive, resilient, efficient, sustainable development of the agriculture sector, the use and management of natural resources, and improved food security and nutrition. This support will, consequently, contribute to improving the livelihoods and well-being of Cambodian people, and the development of the Kingdom.”

However, the Cambodian agricultural sector still faces a number of challenges, including low productivity, limited supporting infrastructure, supporting technologies and techniques for agro-industry, inconsistent supply of agriculture produce in terms of both quantity and quality, inadequate access to markets and price fluctuation, and climate change, amongst others.

In view of these challenges, H.E. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries endorsed the evaluation conclusions and recommendations and underlined five specific focus areas for consideration in designing FAO’s new country programming framework:

  1. Continue providing technical support for promoting agricultural modernization with respect to competitiveness, effectiveness, climate resilience and sustainability;
  2. Improving understanding and increasing capacity of farmers and agricultural cooperatives in agricultural market, and improving the linkage between these communities and the private sector. Food safety is another priority area of the government, which certainly requires technical support of the FAO;
  3. Development of agriculture policies, generating agricultural statistical data, analysis of agricultural economy are very pivotal for policy makers. The FAO is an effective partner for these actions;
  4. Further promoting the livelihood of families who depend on fisheries and forests through diversifying food system;
  5. Engaging more government officials in implementing technical cooperative programmes to further enhance their capacities and ensure efficiency and sustainability of the project. 

In his response, Mr. Alexandre HYUNH stated that FAO will continue to be a strong technical-support partner of the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially MAFF, as well as other stakeholders. He also added that it is important to work together and, “it must be starting with improving ownership of farmers. We need to support them to act differently by adopting good agricultural practices and become competent farmers, while necessary policies and supporting systems need to be also developed.