Dr Hok Lyda
In a quarterly project meeting with his staff, Dr. Lyda Hok described the positive transformation that his career underwent after his return from the United States. Lyda is a faculty member at the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) and enjoys teaching, research, extension, and leadership. He is a testimony of how the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been building capacity of Cambodian faculty to become future agricultural research leaders.
Lyda serves as Center Director of the USAID-funded Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) at RUA. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Cambodia and Thailand, respectively. In 2011, he received a scholarship from USAID to pursue his doctoral degree in the U.S. Describing his early career, Lyda recalls “soon after high school, I was not sure of choosing agriculture as a major, but after discussions with family and friends, it was clear to me that agriculture was critical for Cambodia, so I joined RUA as an undergraduate student. My experience at RUA further motivated me to pursue a doctoral degree in U.S., so I could bring back knowledge and skills to contribute to Cambodia’s agricultural development.”
I still remember the day in junior year when one of my teachers mentioned that there were only few Cambodian researchers on plant diseases and I thought to myself to become one of them. Thinking about lacking of human resources in this field and knowing how important the major is, I decided to go deeper,” said Ong Socheath, a CE SAIN research grantee.Ong Socheath, a lecturer and a plant pathologist, is one of the research project winners in 2017 through CE SAIN Research and Innovation Program. She is also a Ph.D. student of Nagoya University, Japan and will graduate this year. Her project title is “Detection and management of tomato leaf curl virus disease and its whitefly vector,”a three-year project.
At the Agricultural Technology Park (ATP) of the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) in Battambang province, Mr. Phirum By described that his experiential learning at the ATP provided him skills that contributed to his hiring by the international Development Enterprise (iDE), Cambodia.
“CE SAIN has an Internship Program which provides opportunities to senior students and fresh graduates to sharpen their skills and provides leverage for career opportunities,” said Dr. Lyda Hok, Director of CE SAIN. Phirum is one of several students trained at the ATP through the CE SAIN Internship Program. He interned nine months before employment by iDE as a High Value Crop Production Technician in Banteay Meanchey province.
Standing next to their drip irrigation tank in a plot of their chili plants, Mr. Phorng Saret and Ms. Eang Chakriya smile as they describe the positive transformation that they have experienced in their agricultural practices as well as their lives over the past few years. Their audience is a group of farmers from across Siem Reap province in Cambodia who have traveled to their farm to learn from the couple’s success in applying conservation agriculture technology for vegetable production.
Saret and his wife Chakriya, along with their two young children, live in Prei Thlok village in Siem Reap province. Both dropped out of high school because of financial hardships. After they married in 2011, the couple was unable to find jobs locally and so started farming on their small plot of land to support their family. Initially, they grew local vegetables for their own consumption, and they worked on their neighbor’s farm for daily wages to make ends meet.
Ngoun Srey Mey is 24 years old who is very passionate about agriculture. She got a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy at Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) and during her study in year four; she volunteered at Soil Laboratory at her faculty. She is now pursuing a master degree of Crop Science at RUA for year 2017-2019. Seeing her dad lived life so difficult of being a farmer is one of the motivations she chose this major.
Sreymey’s research topic is about determinate tomato cultivars evaluation for their response to high temperature of Cambodia. The goal of this study is to select suitable tomato cultivars for the use in the production in Cambodia during hot season. The objectives of the research are to identify the elite tomato genotypes with yield potential and broad-adaptation to Cambodia agro- ecological condition and to clarify the differences of tomato genotypes in the morphological and physiological characteristic responsible for heat tolerance. Once she finds it then it will primarily benefit to Cambodian’s farmers to receive some knowledge of choosing the right tomato genotypes to grow during hot
Thesis Research Awardee
A 22-year-old student, Ban Naiheak, who comes from province to live with her aunt in Phnom Penh to pursue her education, is in the last year of her bachelor’s degree. Naiheak is majoring in Veterinary Medicine at Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) and she has just handed in her thesis research to the university and ready to defend. Her research topic is “Antimicrobial Resistance Profiles Found in a Case Study of Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) from Cohabitant Pets and Environmental Surfaces at Animal Clinics in Phnom Penh.”
Naiheak is one of the most outstanding students that got the grant from USAID through CE SAIN to support her thesis research in March 2019. “I was not so sure if my thesis topic could go on since it needed a huge financial support and I would definitely change the topic to be simpler that is possible to make, but my thesis was possible to make because my application for grant thesis support was accepted. I was so happy to hear that,” she stated. Besides studying, Naiheak is working part time at the university. At the first stage of her thesis research, she volunteered at an animal clinic to collect samples from dogs for three months. She said that during the past three months was a hard time for her; however, it was a great opportunity to learn new knowledge and experience outside the class. She also got a great support from her supervisors and co- supervisors to help her with her research by giving advice and she can come to lab whenever she needed.