Indian citizen Kaushik Barua conferred with Royal Order in Cambodia

Guwahati, Feb 24 (PTI) The Cambodian government has conferred its national honour to Indian citizen Kaushik Barua, currently the country director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Cambodia and Laos, for rendering distinguished services.

Barua has been awarded the national medal by the Cambodian government under the Royal Order of Sahametrei, conferred primarily on foreigners who have rendered distinguished services to the King and the people of Cambodia, according to the website of the United Nations in Cambodia.

The IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations that works to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

Barua’s colleague Sakphouseth Meng, a Cambodian national and the country programme officer for IFAD Cambodia, was also awarded the national medal under the Royal Order of Sowathara.

Both were recognised for their contributions to poverty reduction, rural development and smallholder agricultural development in Cambodia, the website said.

Barua, who is also an author of international repute, and Meng contributed to improved food security, increased household incomes and assets, primarily achieved from improvements in agricultural productivity and diversification and from investments in roads and irrigation implemented by the IFAD supported projects, the website said.

Through the IFAD country programme, Barua who hails from Assam, has also contributed to the promotion of renewable energy technologies in the region through which over 5,000 small farmers have adopted sustainable and environmentally friendly renewable energy technologies such as solar pumps, solar hatcheries and insect roasters.

Talking to PTI, Barua said that virtual market platform enables smallholder farmers to tap market opportunities, formalise agreements with buyers and access critical information related to production technologies and services.

Upon receiving the award, Barua said, “I am extremely grateful and honoured to receive this award from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of Cambodia. The credit goes to all partners who have worked tirelessly to improve the agricultural sector and contribute to rural development in Cambodia.

“This includes our ministry partners, fellow UN agencies who have collaborated with our projects, our private sector partners, extension workers, farmers organisations and smallholder farmers who are working on the ground to develop sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural systems.”

Earlier Barua was IFADs country manager for Somalia and has worked on rural development projects across multiple regions, including west and central Africa, the Middle East and now South-East Asia.

On IFAD and its relevance, Barua said the international financial institution and the United Nations specialised agency focusing on smallholder agriculture is uniquely well placed to contribute to a sustainable future, free of poverty and hunger, besides being cost-effective, people-centred and partnership-oriented.

With the partner countries trusting its commitment, expertise and impact, IFAD is currently developing an ambitious plan to increase the incomes of 40 million smallholder farmers every year by 2030, said Barua who is also the recipient of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for his first novel ‘Windhorse’.