Scientific and Strategic Orientation Committee (SOC) of the IRD in Phnom Penh

The Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), a French public research institution, supports an original model of equitable scientific partnership and interdisciplinary, citizen-based and sustainable science, committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

These aspects were the focus of discussions on 7 and 8 December 2021 in the different disciplines and research activities where IRD is involved in Cambodia.

On the occasion of these days, a workshop “Towards a research network for the sustainability of aquaculture in Cambodia” was organised on 7 December at the premises of the Technical Institute of Cambodia (ITC). 

This half-day exchange was sponsored by the international research group GDRI ASACHA, (https://asacha-gdri.com).

The GDRI-South “ASACHA” structures a network of 25 institutions from 7 Southern countries that aim to facilitate the agro-ecological transition of tropical aquaculture, by promoting North-South-South cooperation through shared scientific activities. The objective of this GDRI-South is therefore to better integrate the knowledge and skills acquired by scientists and stakeholders in tropical aquaculture, to develop a generic approach for the development of ecological intensification and to promote better ecosystemic integration of aquaculture in different socio-ecological contexts.

The workshop was facilitated by D. Caruso (IRD) and S. Thay (FiA DAD) in the presence (remotely) of Emma Rochelle-Newal, Director of the IRD Eco BIO Department.

The institutions participating in the round table followed:

Fisheries Administration (FIA); French Embassy, Department of Aquaculture Development (DAD), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Royal University of Agriculture (RUA); Technical Institute of Cambodia (ITC); AFD Agence Française de Développement, WorldFish, Apdra and TCO (NGOs); CIRAD; Local experts and other ASACHA members. After an introduction on the importance of research in tropical aquaculture, it was agreed that the emergence of research in aquaculture is a necessity for the technical development and sustainability of aquaculture sectors, but also improved appropriation of innovations to Cambodia.

To illustrate paths for scientific activities, these short presentations followed:

  • Circular food production systems – the role of aquaculture K. KABIR CIRAD -ISEM
  • Antimicrobial Resistance and Aquaculture C. PENG ITC
  • Aquaculture research interests and related projects S. FREED WorldFish
  • Fish for nutrition and health in Cambodia J. Berger F. T. Wieringa IRD- Qualisud
  • Food Technology Platform and its research approach for fisheries  sustainability in Cambodia, by Mr Kang Sin, the CAPFish capture project coordinator

The objectives of this meeting were to discuss, generate and share scientific topics and research proposals of interest for the development of sustainable aquaculture in Cambodia.

Concretely, from the discussions between the participants of the round table, four proposals emerged as important scientific topics to be conducted;

1) Agroecology particularly how to develop the circularity of aquaculture ponds and promote IAA (integrated aquaculture farming). Interest in the study of fish assemblages and nutritional flows in these systems was shown.

2) Small native species domestication (SNS) and subsistence aquaculture

The domestication of small species for subsistence farming can provide additional food resources and income for the poorer peasant classes. The nutritional quality of these fish is excellent, and the mastery of fish farming can contribute to the fight against malnutrition, especially in children and pregnant women.

3) MAR and the One Health concept in aquaculture

Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture and aquatic products is also a priority. Research should focus on studying antimicrobial resistance in sentinel bacteria from the aquatic environment, to give early indications for governance. However, new tools (genetics and meta-genomics) should provide a greater understanding of the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in aquatic environments.   

4) Diversity and population genetics of aquatic animals

Study on the diversity and genetics of aquatic species in the rice field is not systematically undertaken in these anthropised agricultural environments. These areas are very important as nurseries and habitats for wild fish and the ecosystem resources (freshwater shrimps, crabs, small fish and larvae) represent an extremely important contribution to the food supply of rural populations and not.  A proper inventory and estimation of the resources are all the more necessary, considering that these species, which are dependent on these environments, seem to be becoming scarce at a high speed.

Discussions also focused on the means to be put in place, possible funding, training and synergies with aquaculture research players. Promising and concrete avenues are already being explored in response to these research proposals, including through the AquaCAM project.

The conclusions and proposals resulting from this day were communicated the following day, December 8, to the IRD Scientific Council during the plenary meeting, where the various themes and cooperative research activities were presented by IRD researchers and Cambodian partners.

Among the interventions, Dr Hav Viseth, FiA’s vice director, after a quick overview of the role of fisheries and aquaculture in Cambodia, illustrated the opportunities, but also the challenges that aquaculture has to face.  He also stressed the importance of research activities and the contribution of innovation are essential for the sustainable development of aquaculture and national and international cooperation are excellent catalysts for this.

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Research on antibiotic resistance in aquaculture

On 27 December the ITC team, led by Dr Peng and assisted by the Fisher Administration team, conducted sampling in Kampong Cham province. 71 samples (fish, water and sediment) from farmed ponds were taken and this will provide a lot of laboratory work and analysis for ITC students and young scientists to isolate sentinel bacterial strains, identify them and study their antimicrobial resistance profile.