ADB Loan No. 2035-CAM (SF)/AFD Grant No. CKH 3003.01: Northwest Irrigation Sector Project

Speech | 8 February 2011

Remarks by Putu Kamayana, ADB Country Director, at the Official Handover of Irrigation System to FWUC/PDWRAM at Punley and Koam Communes, Phnom Srok and Svay Chek Districts, Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia

Excellency Secretary of State of MOWRAM,
Excellency Deputy Governor of Banteay Meanchey Province, Excellency Ambassador of France, Mr. Christian Connan
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Farmers

First of all, I am honored and very pleased to join you today on behalf of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the official handover of Punley Irrigation System to the Farmer Water User Community (FWUC) and the Provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology (PDWRAM). I would like to thank all all those involved for making the arrangements for the ceremony today. The achievements that we celebrate here are the results of the excellent partnerships between the Royal Government of Cambodia, Agence Française de Développement, ADB and the beneficiary farmers.

The Punley Irrigation System is one of twelve irrigation systems being rehabilitated under the Northwest Irrigation Sector Project. Since its completion in August 2009, the improved Punley system irrigates 440 ha of paddy fields in the wet season, 118 ha in the dry season and another 100 ha for the recession rice. A significant increase in the rice yields has been reported since then, in 2010 the yields per hectare increased from 2 tons/ha to 3.5 tones per ha in the wet season and to 4.5 tones per ha in the dry season. If the farmers cultivate rice 2 to 3 times per year, rice production is expected to more than double and consequently, we expect the livelihoods of the rural people will be greatly improved.

Despite initial delays, the Project has made remarkable progress in developing irrigated agriculture in the neglected rural areas of northwest Cambodia. The Project was approved by the ADB Board on 9 December 2003 with a concessional loan of about US$19 million which became effective on 2 February 2005. AFD provides parallel grant co-financing of €4 million. By the end of 2010, almost all construction works for the twelve irrigation systems in five provinces have been completed. Altogether, these twelve irrigation schemes will irrigate about 10,000 ha of paddy fields starting from this year.

2011 is the final year for project implementation. The work that remains to be completed is to build and strengthen the Farmers Water User Committees (FWUCs) and support agricultural activities. A FWUC has been established at every irrigation scheme under the Project. The remaining project period will focus on FWUC registration, and O&M planning and management. Collaboration between the FWUCs and PDWRAM to share the management of irrigation infrastructure like what we see here at Punley will need to be replicated in other schemes, to sustain the FWUC operations.

The Project has also selected about 5,000 farmers to participate in the farmer field school (FFS) training program covering rice, vegetables, chicken-, and pig-raising for both wet and dry seasons. We are happy to see that more than half of the farmers are women.

ADB will continue to support these two main activities after the Project's completion through a new project, the Water Resource Management Sector Development Program that was approved in September 2010 and is expected to start its activities soon.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, once again, I would like to thank all of you for your cooperation and active participation during this Project's implementation. I expect the Project will continue the good work that has been done up until today and replicated in other schemes. I wish you all success in your efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor of Cambodia.

Thank you.