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RUA-CULS Collaboration Paving the Way for Sustainable Agriculture in Cambodia

On November 23, 2023, the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development (AERD) at the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) in Phnom Penh hosted a groundbreaking scientific conference. Themed "Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture," the event marked the culmination of the project "Development of study programs and research in the field of sustainable agriculture and aquaculture in Cambodia." This initiative, supported by the Czech Republic Development Cooperation, aimed to enhance academic capacities, strengthen international partnerships, and promote sustainable practices in Cambodian agriculture.

The international conference witnessed active participation from esteemed institutions such as the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS), Prince of Songkla University, and key stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Activities included oral and poster presentations, dissemination of scholarship information, and networking opportunities.

Keynote speakers, Dr. Chutima Tantikitti and Ing. Petra Chaloupková, provided insights into "Sustainable Aquaculture Through Research at Aquatic Science" and the "Role of Transformational Leadership for Agricultural Cooperatives in Cambodia," respectively.

The conference featured 20 presentations and 20 posters by Cambodian students, fostering knowledge exchange and competition. The organizing committee recognized outstanding contributions, awarding the three best presentations and posters, showcasing the impressive research efforts of young Cambodian scholars.

The overarching goal of the project is to elevate the study programs and research in sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, enhancing the capabilities of academic staff and students at RUA. The project aligns with the Bilateral Cooperation Program of the Czech Republic for Cambodia (2018–2023), emphasizing the improvement of higher education and employment prospects for graduates.

Output 1: Transfer of Czech Know-How

The project seeks to critically review master's study programs at three collaborating faculties: Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Fisheries, and AgroIndustry. This includes setting priorities, consulting on program preparation, and engaging in panel discussions with employers to ensure relevance and accreditation adherence.

Output 2: Research Competences Enhancement

Efforts focus on increasing research competencies through specialized short-term study stays and a Summer School titled "ASAP Cambodia - Assessing the sustainability of aquaculture production in Cambodia." This includes management skills training in pedagogy and international relations, as well as hands-on experience for approximately 15 students.

Output 3: Scientific and Research Activity Support

Activities aim to promote science and research at RUA, government scholarships, and project outputs. The international scientific conference, government scholarship promotion, and dissemination of project activities and outputs contribute to these efforts.

ASAP Cambodia Summer School:

The 10-day Summer School in 2023 immersed students from RUA and CULS in the complexities of alternative aquaculture value chains. Participants gained theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and soft skills through innovative teaching methods, project-based learning, and real-world experiences. A weekend excursion to Siam Reap province further enriched their understanding of Cambodian aquaculture.

International Scientific Conference at RUA:

The conference showcased the collective achievements of RUA and CULS, fostering knowledge exchange on sustainable agriculture. Topics spanned agronomy, animal science, forestry, agro-industry, veterinary medicine, environmental science, fishery, agricultural engineering, land management, and agricultural economics.

In conclusion, the RUA-CULS collaboration, supported by the Czech Republic Development Cooperation, is actively shaping the future of sustainable agriculture and aquaculture in Cambodia. Through conferences, summer schools, and international exchanges, the project is sowing the seeds for a more resilient and environmentally conscious agricultural landscape in the region.