Another year, another annual meeting: Horticulture Innovation Lab partners gathered this time in Cambodia to share achievements, exchange ideas, and scheme about their next steps in advancing horticultural science and helping smallholder farmers in developing countries.
Exchanging horticultural ideas at lightning speed
Nearly 100 scientists, development practitioners, and other horticultural partners gathered for a Regional Horticulture Conference on the first day of the meeting.
Elizabeth Mitcham of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, Men Sarom of the Royal University of Agriculture, Sang Lee of USAID/Cambodia, and John Bowman of USAID’s Bureau for Food Security provided welcoming remarks to set the scene for the day and its priorities.
Lee highlighted the accomplishments of Feed the Future activities in Cambodia, including USAID’s continued investment in horticulture to increase incomes and nutrition through fruits and vegetables.
“It is estimated that 70 percent of vegetables are imported from neighboring countries,” she said. “Even if we can reduce that 70 percent marginally, I think that can make a big difference.”
Much of the conference day was split into 5-minute lightning talks, with a total of 15 speakers sharing just the highlights of their recent horticultural work. After one hour of presentations, the speakers and participants circulated for follow-up questions and in-depth discussions sparked by the brief talks. (See slides from the lightning talks on our website, and watch for 5-minute video features of these talks in future blog posts.)
Approximately 175 participants attended a Symposium on Horticultural Science, held March 18 at the Royal University of Agriculture campus in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The event was presented by the Royal University of Agriculture in collaboration with the Horticulture Innovation Lab.
The rector of the Royal University of Agriculture, Ngo Bunthan attended the technical sessions. He also offered welcoming remarks about the importance of horticulture in Cambodia and the increasing demand for Cambodian-grown fresh produce.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia has set a high priority on the agriculture sector for sustainable growth because of its leading contribution to the country’s economy,” Bunthan said. “More than 70 percent of the population work in rural cultivation. However, Cambodia’s horticulture [sector]… is not self-sufficient yet, and the country relies heavily on imports from neighboring countries.”
He also emphasized the university’s interest in international cooperation and building the capacity of its young lecturers, alumni and students.
“This symposium is important in developing the concrete understanding of horticulture technology among resources in the university, where those technologies can then be disseminated to the field and privates farms, ultimately producing sustainable horticulture products for Cambodia,” he said.
Approximately 120 people attended the “Southeast Asia Symposium on Quality Management in Postharvest Systems” held in August in Cambodia, sponsored in part by the Horticulture Innovation Lab. The conference was held under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science with conference leadership by Borarin Buntong of the Royal University of Agriculture.
The first morning was attended by H.E. Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State and the representative of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Sandra Stajka, USAID/Cambodia’s Director of Food Security and Environment Office, among other dignitaries.
This ISHS event will highlight innovations related to postharvest aspects of the horticultural value chain, including food safety, reducing postharvest losses, processing, fresh-cut, packaging, microbiology, supply chain management, and seed quality.
Agricultural scholars from universities, government ministries, and non-governmental organizations will attend, from countries throughout Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. University students are also encouraged to participate.