Welcome Remarks by Mr. Alexandre Huynh, FAO Representative in Cambodia
His Excellency Kitti Settha Pandita Chhay Than, Senior Minister, Minister of Planning,
His Excellency Rin Vireak, Active Secretary of State, Ministry of Planning,
His Excellency Hor Darith, Secretary of State, Ministry of Planning,
His Excellency Tuy Chamroeun, Secretary of State, Ministry of Planning,
His Excellency Chan Chesda, Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,
Her Excellency Hang Lina, Delegate of Royal Government of Cambodia in-charge of Director of the National Institute of Statistics,
Ms. Pauline Tamesis, Resident Coordinator, United Nations
Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development,
Excellences, distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all today to the “Cambodia Inter-censal Agriculture Survey 2019 Report Release Workshop”. This event is jointly organized by the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, with technical support from FAO, under the scope of the “AGRISurvey”, a multi-year program funded by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United States Agency for International Development, the FAO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
The past year has been of extraordinary difficulty for all of us, with a global pandemic that affected every aspects of our lives. Under these exceptional circumstances, the Royal Government of Cambodia has managed to work hand in hand with development partners and civil societies to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control in the country. All these efforts must be sustained, and I kindly encourage you to keep exercising the precautionary measures we are now all familiar with: maintain physical distancing, wear your face masks and wash your hands with soap and water or with alcohol as often as possible. We are today very lucky to be able to organize and attend an event with that a high number of participants, and I am counting on all of you to act responsibly so similar events can be organized in the future.
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s release of the CIAS 2019 report is a major achievement for the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially considering the sanitary situation I just mentioned. The CIAS 2019 is indeed the first large-scale data collection effort in the agriculture sector since the Cambodia Agriculture Census in 2013. This survey, as part of the AGRISurvey program, contributed to strengthening national capacity, ownership and autonomy of the national agricultural statistical system and to create an efficient data collection system that will be optimized over the years. This survey data will contribute to the implementation of the Agricultural Sector Strategic Development Plan and the Agriculture Sector Master Plan and will help to monitor progress towards the achievement of the Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals. Such an achievement is the result of a combination of enabling factors, the two most important of which I would like to describe to you now.
First, I believe that the CIAS 2019 is the perfect example of a well-working partnership between the government partners, the development partners, and the donors. As the FAO Representative in Cambodia, I wish to compliment His Excellency Kitti Settha Pandita Chhay Than, Her Excellency Hang Lina and His Excellency Chan Chesda, for the excellent level of involvement we have seen from MoP, NIS and MAFF during the implementation of the CIAS 2019. FAO has worked intensively with a core team of experts from these government agencies to build capacity on the best survey practices at both national and sub-national levels. While we recognize that much improvement is still possible – this was, after all, our first survey only – we are also convinced that this level of partnership was key to the success of the CIAS 2019. I also wish to remind everybody that none of the training, data collection and data processing activities would have been possible without the financial support and trust we have received from USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This support is still helping us to carry on the Cambodia Agriculture Survey 2020 activities.
The second most important success factor for the CIAS 2019 resides, I believe, in its innovative approach. The CIAS 2019 is indeed the first national survey to use the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing mode – or CAPI. This tablet-based approach presents many advantages in terms of data quality, data timely access and overall cost-efficiency. The project permitted to equip NIS with a fleet of more than 400 tablets, which will of course be available for any other national data collection efforts. NIS and MAFF staff were trained on CAPI system design, CAPI data collection – including the quality control procedures – and CAPI survey management. These new survey tools and procedures played a significant part in the efficient implementation of the 2019 agriculture survey and were re-used, with improvements, for the 2020 survey.
The scarcity of high-quality and timely agricultural data has been a key constraint for Cambodia to effectively plan, finance, and implement agricultural development strategies. As of 2021, the AGRISurvey will be incorporated into the “50x2030 Initiative”, a 10-year global programme, led by the unique partnership between the World Bank (WB), the FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Initiative aims to fill the agricultural data gap in 50 low and lower-middle income countries by year 2030, and to inform their agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Cambodia is the first country to join the Initiative in Asia.
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The short-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia are currently being investigated through a number of studies initiated jointly by government and development partners, public and private agencies. However, there is to date no comprehensive study targeting the specific impact of the pandemic on the agriculture sector, beyond the Rapid Assessment conducted in April 2020. Because the CIAS 2019 data collection was completed a few months before the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, this survey will have the potential to be considered a baseline situation, to which we will be able to compare the 2020 survey data. This will allow NIS and MAFF to better understand the pandemic impact on the agricultural production and market systems.
To conclude, I hope that this workshop will provide an opportunity for all participants to better understand the need for better and more reliable agriculture statistics in Cambodia, and will convince you all of the contribution of the CIAS 2019 to this objective.
Once again, I would also like to congratulate His Excellency Kitti Settha Pandita Chhay Than, NIS and MAFF, FAO colleagues in RAP and Rome Headquarters and here in Cambodia, USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for bringing the CIAS 2019 to this report release date. I thank you all for your presence here today, and I wish you a fruitful workshop.