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Delve Deeper into the Agricultural Plastic Waste through Workshop with RDI and iDE in Cambodia
The use of plastic in agriculture is enough to disrupt the sustainability of the surrounding ecosystem. Moreover, improper handling further aggravates the condition of local agriculture. The majority of farmers still do not know how to properly handle plastic waste, many of them still save and store plastic waste, causing more harmful impacts on nature such as emissions, carcinogenic substances, and other toxic particles, as well as threatening the reproduction of soil biota and storing biodiversity.
This awareness encourages the importance of alternatives to reduce plastic agriculture such as increasing the durability and recycling of agricultural plastic products, developing better waste management services, encouraging the function of the plastic recycling and recycling industry, and terrestrial ecosystem services. In addition, we also need to take a nature-based approach to reduce plastic use and redesign conventional plastics into bioplastics. It is important to discuss the issue of plastic farming with the interests of both the private sector and the government to build future collaborations for sustainable production, one of the media is through workshops.
A workshop hosted by RDI and IDE Cambodia commenced on Thursday, 16 February 2023 at Sokhalay Angkor Hotel & Spa, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. The workshop started with the opening remark from the Country Director of IDE Cambodia, Kevin Robin, and a representative from Seam Reap Province, Cambodia. This workshop was conducted with the aim being to validate the study findings and raise awareness of stakeholders regarding the impact of agricultural plastic usage and courses of action that can be taken. The workshop itself was moderated by Seng Kim Hian from IDE of Cambodia. After the workshop officially started with the opening remarks, the participants had a group photo session to commemorate the cooperation between IDE and RDI in hosting the workshop.
The next activity was a field visit to an agriculture trial site. There, the facilitators explained the effect of mulching on the sweet melon production trial, along with introducing cocoa peat and organic farming to the workshop participants. After returning to the hotel, the workshop resumed with the next activity, which was a presentation by RDI Director and Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Elisabeth Rianawati. In her presentation, she further explained our agricultural plastic research result validation which highlighted the brief research methodology, plastic waste generation potential from the agricultural sector, and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) soil sampling result. Next, the key speaker was Mr. Yoshua Bonar Nugroho (Situmorang), one of RDI’s Research Fellows. In his presentation, he explained the Market for Biodegradable plastic, which includes the market size estimation, challenges and potential, and also possible points of intervention.
A group discussion was the next activity after two presentations from RDI research fellows. The participants were divided into five groups, which were: 1) plastic users (farmers, collectors); 2) plastic manufacturers + distributors (local input suppliers); 3) public sectors (Ag + Environment); 4) NGOs/Development projects; and 5) online participants from different institutions. Afterward, one of RDI research fellows, Dr. Vadith Va, was presenting the result of the discussion session with the farmers that were present.
To close such interactive schedules, a closing remark was presented by Kevin Robbins, Country Director of iDE Cambodia. One important note he mentioned about the workshop was how interesting it was to learn the findings from RDI research so that all the participants that were present understood the challenges better and could discuss concrete solutions for the problems found in the research. The journey to solve the problem would be long but he is optimistic for the future if all of the participants will work on it.