Category Archives: Discussion

Observations from the Field

Four students from RUA (the Royal University of Agriculture) tell Lift why they chose to study agriculture and give us their thoughts on what needs to be done to improve the sector.

Group photo of 4 RUA students who join our discussion / by: Koam Tivea

Group photo of 4 RUA students who join our discussion / by: Koam Tivea


Why did you choose to study agriculture? What do you plan to do when you get out?

On Seyha, a student from Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) major in Agronomy / by: Koam Tivea

On Seyha, a student from Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) major in Agronomy / by: Koam Tivea

Dara: I decided to study agriculture because I saw the possibilities within the job market in Cambodia’s agriculture sector. Because of the size of the industry, agriculture offers more opportunities than majors like accounting, business and economics.

Moeung Bophayanika, a student from RUA major in Agronomy / by: Dara Saoyuth

Moeung Bophayanika, a student from RUA major in Agronomy / by: Dara Saoyuth

Seyha: I chose to study agriculture because my parents are farmers. I can apply what I’ve learned in school to the real world by working with farmers through companies or organisations that focus on agriculture. I can introduce new techniques to the farmers living in rural areas, who are still using traditional techniques, and help them improve their lives by producing a higher-quality grain. If agriculture doesn’t develop, the county won’t develop either.

Rem Chandara, a student from RUA major in Agronomy / by: Koam Tivea

Rem Chandara, a student from RUA major in Agronomy / by: Koam Tivea

Do you think that you can get a good job with good pay when you graduate? What sort of job do you want to get?
Seyha: Most students graduating from RUA, especially in rural development, are working for NGOs. Students who study agronomy can work for companies such as those owned by Mong Reththy and Ly Yong Phat.

Tha Sokunthear, a student from RUA major in Agricultural Economic and Rural Development / by: Koam Tivea

Tha Sokunthear, a student from RUA major in Agricultural Economic and Rural Development / by: Koam Tivea

Nika: We can also work in the government or, for those who like teaching, they can work in the University of Agriculture.
Dara: If students have relatives or friends who can help them find jobs with the government, they will be able to get the high pay and a high position. However, when working with the government, we don’t work directly with the people like we would with an NGO.

What changes need to be made within Cambodia’s agriculture sector to improve it?

Dara: The first change should start with the farmers themselves. It’s their responsibility to improve themselves. They should not just wait for another person to help them. They need to learn the techniques from the good farmers around them.
Seyha: Firstly, we have to improve equipment like irrigation systems. Then farmers won’t have to spend money on pumping water into their fields. Secondly, farmers often don’t know how to find a market for their goods because there is a middleman who buys their products and sells them at the market. The farmers gets a bad price while the middleman takes a hefty portion of the profits. I want people to form communities, and when they buy something, buy it together. For example, if a village wants to buy 50 bags of fertiliser, they can do it together and save time and money. They can also sell their products together so the buyers cannot pay them a low price. The third thing we need is more processing companies in our country. That way we can transform our goods from raw materials to finished products, which we can export to foreign countries for more money.

Many organisations say farmers are resistant to changing their methods. What are the difficulties and what did you do to convince these people that the new practice is the best?
Dara: If we just go to the farmers and tell them to change they have no reason to believe us. We need to set up a demonstration plot to show farmers or choose a model farmer who wants to improve his or her techniques. When it proves that it is the best technique and beneficial to their production, other farmers will start to follow.

Do you think that cash crops such as rubber and cassava are a good choice for the use of Cambodian land?
Dara: I think for businesspeople, they don’t think about how to use soil sustainably. They think that rubber is planted for business and sale, but they don’t think of how the soil will be ruined. When we plant only one kind of crop, it will take out all of the nutrients.
Nika: Many companies are growing cassava, which takes a lot of nutrients from the land and doesn’t give any back so the soil will be destroyed one day.

Do you think that there will be problems with many people growing commercial crops and not enough food crops?
Dara: I think there will be problems with more people growing commercial crops to get power.
Nika: Commercial crops are usually grown on concession land in places like Kratie, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri, while food crops are mostly grown in Battambang, Pursat and Takeo. Therefore, I don’t think it causes problems.
Dara: However, now that rubber from Vietnam has been introduced and can be grown in any kinds of soil it will likely impact the food security in Cambodia.

Do you know what the value chain is? Do you know that many times rice has been sent to Vietnam and Thailand, who return it to Cambodia for sale after it has been processed? I want to know what you think of processing in Cambodia.
Dara: I think the government is paying more attention to investment. I believe that in the future Cambodia will improve since there are more and more investments in the Kingdom. Moreover, many students have had a chance to study abroad, so that they can bring knowledge of processing to Cambodia. With this, Cambodia will be able to process more of its agriculture products on its own.

by: Dara Saoyuth and Koam Tivea

This article was published on Lift, Issue 28, July 21, 2010

Love is in the Air

We asked radio personalities whose programmes deal with the topic of love to share their ideas on how Cambodian youth can find a place for love in their busy lives and enjoy the benefits of romance without getting hurt in the process. Their responses have been translated from Khmer and edited for clarity and length.

Ek Monosen

Ek  Monosen / Photo supplied

Ek Monosen / Photo supplied

Love consultant for Radio FM 102
and vice rector at Human Resources University

Heng Sokchannaroth

No photo

No photo

Radio personality for radio FM103

Chhy Rotha

Chhy Rotha / Photo supplied

Chhy Rotha / Photo supplied

Producer of the “Don’t Be Shy”
segment of the “Smile Hopefully”
show on Radio FM100.3

Neang Sovathana

Neang Sovathana / Photo supplied

Neang Sovathana / Photo supplied

Radio personality for “The Love Show” on Radio FM 106.5


Is it possible to be a great student and be in a healthy romantic relationship?

Ek Monosen – There are two possible results to a romantic relationship between students. One is that they will encourage each other to study hard so they will have better results in their studies. However, they also might waste time doing other things to show their love for each other that will cause their grades to drop off. Students who fall in love can be still be good students, but I would say it is rare.

Chhy Rotha – Outstanding students can certainly get involved with a romantic partner. High-performing people need love just like anyone else. The results of falling in love depend on their ability to manage their time. Some people use love as motivation to study harder. I have seen great students who have won scholarships who are in a relationship. They must know what they want out of their relationship. Of course, if they let love control them they will risk falling apart and facing failure.
Heng Sokchannaroth – It depends on our partner. If our partner encourages us to study hard, it is good. But if our partner doesn’t like studying and instead likes going out, we will bump into failure. So, the weight is in our partner. If we have a good partner, we will be more likely to be good.

How do you know if you have met your true love?

Chhy Rotha – People usually have a set criteria for what type of person they want to be with. While you may not be able to find a person who meets all of those criteria, they at least need to fill enough of them to make you happy and allow you to get along well. The closer you get to someone, the more you will know if they might be a person who you can start a family with.

Ek Monosen – Although there is all kinds of new technology in the world, we have yet to develop a thermometer to gauge whether someone is good or bad. The chance that you will meet the love of your life in your youth is slim because when young people fall in love they focus too much on loyalty. There are other factors that must be considered such as age, knowledge, jobs, health, family and other factors that become more important as we grow up. Loyalty is important but it is does not guarantee that your love will last or lead to a happy family.

Heng Sokchannaroth – An honest partner is the one who takes care of us and thinks about us all of the time, but also motivates us to study and work hard. A caring lover would never ask us to go out with him or her if we didn’t want to or had unfinished work.

How can you deal with a broken heart after a tough break up?

Ek Monosen – You have to realise that while you may be in a dark place, you have not died and you will recover. Moreover, people must not think that falling out of love was a failure on their part, it can often be a success because you will no longer waste time with a person who did not treat you the way you deserved to be treated. We can compare dating to learning to walk as a baby. If we stopped trying the first time we fell down we would live our lives unable to walk. You must move on and learn to love yourself again and trust that you will find someone else.

Chhy Rotha – The best way to deal with a broken heart is to avoid being isolated. Try to share your problems with friends and relatives. People who you know will love you no matter what. You should also consider the benefits as well as the disadvantages of the breakup. Write this down on a piece of paper, focusing on how the change will impact upon your future goals academically and professionally. Although it will not take away 100 percent of the pain, staying busy is also an important way to prevent yourself from going into a post-breakup depression.

How do you know if your lover is being loyal and honest with you?

Neang Sovathana – Using me and my boyfriend as an example, we try to as open-minded as possible to each other. So he never tells me a lie. If my boyfriend is interested in someone else, and I have another man on my mind, we can just separate peacefully. We share our personal matters every day. We correct bad points of each other. If he sees that I am making a mistake, he corrects me, and if I see that he is messing up, I correct him too. Only time can tell if someone is loyal or not. Some people like to use sweet words and some don’t, but we should be hesitant to believe what people say until we see how they act.

Chhy Rotha – We can observe his or her actions, as compared with their words. To what level are their sweet words actually matched by sweet action? Loyalty doesn’t just mean you are there, it also means people are willing to share their personal problems with each other.

Ek Monosen – To judge if a person is loyal or not you need at least six months in a relationship. We need to see to what extent they take care of each other. Does your partner aim only to have sex with you or not? Do they keep promises or not? Have they ever told a lie? If you feel like it is time to get married you should make three requests of your potential spouse: have blood tests, spend time at his house and have your marriage officially registered. If your lover does all of these things they are probably honest, but it still doesn’t guarantee a happy life together.

Heng Sokchannaroth – It is difficult to tell whether someone you have fallen in love with is honest in the initial stages of a relationship. The best way to ensure that we are with someone who we can trust is to be patient and do not hurry to make a decision about whether your partner really loves you. What is important is that we take time to observe our partner and then after a while we can make a decision as to how faithful they really are.

By: Dara Saoyuth & LIFT Staffs

This article was published on Lift, Issue 26, July 7, 2010

Coming Back to Make an Impact

Lift sent out questions to four Cambodian scholars who have returned from studying abroad to help in the development of their home country. Their answers shed light on the drastic differences between education systems overseas and in Cambodia, but also on the value of becoming part of a different culture and a different way of life. These answers are excerpted from their email responses and edited for length and clarity.

Sun Samnang:

Sun Samnang/ Photo supplied

Sun Samnang/ Photo supplied

Age: 31
Studied law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa through the Freeman Foundation Fellowship. This scholarship was privately funded and advertised, but students who want to study in the US can visit the US embassy website to browse a variety of scholarship opportunities. Sun Samnang is currently working as a lecturer of law at Pannasastra University and the University of Cambodia.

For more information about this scholarship programme visit:

Mol Vibol:

Mol Vibol/ Photo supplied

Mol Vibol/ Photo supplied

Age: 27
Studied educational science and school administration at the University of Moncton in Canada through the Canadian Francophone Scholarship Programme. Mol Vibol is currently working as a lecturer at the Cambodian Institute of Technology.

For more information about this scholarship programme visit:

Sang Sothun:

Sang Sothun/ Photo supplied

Sang Sothun/ Photo supplied

Age: 24
Studied in Lyon, France, through the Eiffel Excellence Scholarships Programme. He has been working in Cambodia’s government since returning to the country. He also works as a part-time lecturer and freelance translator to supplement his income.

For more information about this scholarship programme visit:

Loa Narin:

Loa Narin/ Photo by: Koam Tivea

Loa Narin/ Photo by: Koam Tivea

Age: 24
Studied at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia on the Peace Scholarship programme. This particular scholarship is no longer available, but there are various other scholarships being offered by the Australian government. Loa Narin worked for an NGO upon returning but is now working for the Institute of Foreign Languages as a full-time lecturer.

For more information about this scholarship programme visit:

What was one thing you realised studying abroad that you couldn’t have learned here?

Mol Vibol: Teachers in Canada didn’t seem like teachers at all. They treated us as their friends, brothers or sisters, unlike Cambodian teachers who often have too much pride or do not teach their students well. In Cambodia we can see a gap between students and teachers, as students do not want to disturb their teachers and are afraid to ask questions to them.

Loa Narin: The independence in studying and living abroad was invaluable. The experiences have broadened my horizons and enabled me to be more confident and more mature as an individual.

What were the main differences between your education abroad and education here?

Sang Sothun: The quality of the studies in France can be seen on exam day. I don’t know what happens up there, maybe the rules are so strict or maybe students there never cheat on exams because of their conscience. The results are catastrophic if someone cheats. They would rather fail than cheat.

Loa Narin: The lecturer’s job is to facilitate the students’ studies and students have to be very independent in their studies. At the university I studied at, students met once or twice a week to sit with a sea of 200 or more students to listen to a lecture, which lasted from an hour to 90 minutes. The class then breaks down into “tutorial” groups where 25 or so students have discussions with tutors where they solve problems, ask questions and do presentations. The facilities were also state-of-the-art. For instance, the “i-lecture” is a system that records the lecturer’s words during their classes and posts them online for students who were absent or didn’t understand some points. They can listen to the lecture from anywhere, any time, through the internet.

Mol Vibol: Teachers in Cambodia explain the entire lesson on the whiteboard and the students just take notes on the information. In Canada, teachers give assignments to students and let students research by themselves. In Canada teachers have the obligation to guide and help their students when they need assistance, but they don’t have to help their students do everything.

How has your experience abroad improved your abilities and performance in your job?

Sun Samnang: One thing I know is that I would not be able to do what I am doing now if it weren’t for the education I received. I have a responsibility to channel correct information to students and assist them in conducting research and getting through their academic journey, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I myself were not equipped with those skills and experiences.

Loa Narin: As a result of the experiences I had in Australia, my confidence has soared and I am a better communicator, not just in my English ability per se, but also in my ability to interact with people across different cultures.

Mol Vibol: I treat my students as brothers and sisters and try to help them learn in a relaxed way. I think this method works well because when students learn due to their own passions – rather than other people forcing them in one direction – they will make much better progress.

How will you use your experiences abroad to help develop Cambodia?

Mol Vibol: If I were a director of a university I would give more chances to other people who are qualified and capable of working, not someone I knew or a relative. Moreover, I like talking and helping people so I will use my experience to share with my students and I will encourage and advise my students to work harder for their future.

Sun Samnang: I believe that teaching is one of the most noble professions there is. I see the role of education as being tremendously important in building a strong generation of youth. Teaching isn’t just about giving students something that is in books, it is about giving them the ability to think and generate ideas.

Sang Sothun: Serving your country to help its develop should be promoted and established in the minds of Cambodian people. One person cannot change the world. I am just one part of Cambodia. What I can do is to try my best to serve this country and that’s why I choose to work in the public sector.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Koam Tivea

This article was published on Lift, Issue 25, June 30, 2010

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