Key achievements_KOPIA Cambodia

KOPIA program in Cambodia

KOPIA – Customized cross-border farming technologies to address poverty and rural challenges

KOPIA (Korea Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology) is an innovative development cooperation platform that facilitates agricultural partnerships among partners and donors, where agricultural technologies can be efficiently scaled up and effectively commercialized. KOPIA consists of three pillars: to develop locally-customized farming technologies; to carry out pilot projects to demonstrate practical effectiveness; and to involve other donors for scaling up.

Innovation Summary

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The KOPIA program aims to overcome low productivity and insufficient income of local farmers in partner countries by providing customized agri-technology developed jointly by RDA (the national agricultural research institution) experts and those in partner countries. The short-run objectives of the program in the short-run are to develop customized technologies and to identify the best means to apply them by assessing their practical usages via pilot projects carried out on local farms. Then, RDA invites other donors to assist in scaling up the results from the pilot projects in order to achieve the long-term goals of enhancing the productivity and income level of local farmers and their families.

The program launched its journey with 6 partners including Viet Nam in 2009, and has expanded to 22 countries, covering four geopolitical regions (i.e. 8 countries in Asia, 7 in Africa, 5 in Latin America, and 2 in CIS). RDA’s annual funding for the KOPIA program is US$ 8.57 million in total, or approx. US$ 0.4-0.5 million per country in 2021. The successful journey of the program in just over 10 years is largely given by its innovative nature described below:

1. Relevance and Effectiveness: KOPIA selects priority areas for technical development and pilot projects reflecting the partners' agricultural policy and strategy. Experts from the RDA and partner countries work together closely on site to develop customized technologies for the particular location. The practical usefulness of the developed technologies is then assessed via pilot projects, and all the results are well documented and evaluated for feedback.

2. Efficiency: KOPIA program is cost efficient as it reappoints RDA retirees with extensive field experience and takes advantage of existing research facilities in partner countries. This strategy enables KOPIA program to run with minimal HR and living expenses, and thus the RDA has expanded the program to 22 countries with a very limited budget of less than US$ 10 mil./annum.

3. Division of labor or Coherence: KOPIA program is designed especially for producing outcomes in agri-technology aspects, while inviting other donors for scaling up to other goals of SDGs (e.g. improving living standards) or spreading the results to other regions.

4. Impact and Sustainability: The program is run by RDA experts placed in a partner country’s public institutes on a permanent basis. The program is reviewed regularly to evaluate merits and demerits of the current projects and identify future projects to improve the short-term outcomes in terms of impact and sustainability. At the same time, KOPIA coordinators at RDA Headquarters analyse the results from all 22 programs and identify ways to enhance mutual benefits.

There is a broad spectrum of beneficiaries of the KOPIA program, ranging from local farmers and agriculture specialists, to researchers and policy makers in partner countries. The program can also be beneficial for other donors whose objective is to improve living standards of local farmers by simply integrating results to their program for scaling up or further improvement of the customized agri-technologies through applying their expertise. In fact, the KOPIA program has produced a variety of success stories and built rich field experiences through the implementation of a range of projects: quality seed production in Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, and Myanmar; seed potato production in Ecuador, Paraguay, and Pakistan; forage crop cultivation in Bolivia, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia; and improved poultry in Kenya and Senegal.

The efficacy of the program can be illustrated by a project carried out in Cambodia, where the KOPIA Cambodia Center launched a project on breeding maize varieties adapted to the local environments. Through a series of selection, breeding of superior inbred lines and testing of F1 seed productivity; finally, in 2020, the ‘CHM01’ variety was registered in the national variety list. During 2019 and 2020, the Center formed 53 maize experimental plots in 5 provinces with a total acreage of 74 ha, and piloted the variety with farmers. Harvesting time was accelerated by 10-15 days compared to conventional maize varieties, which also brings other advantages, such as preventing losses by rodents and avoiding labour shortages during harvest season. The farmers’ satisfaction was raised with the benefits of the new variety.

Although the KOPIA program has already been institutionalized by dispatching RDA experts and assistants to partner countries on a medium term (i.e. tenure of 3 years per expert) and rolling basis, the program can be more effective and sustainable if other bilateral and multilateral research institutions can participate in the initiative by sharing their know-hows, financial or in-kind support, or launching similar initiatives in other regions or partner countries. Thus, RDA eagerly invites other donors to the KOPIA platform.

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Year: 2009
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Developing Proposals - turning ideas into business cases that can be assessed and acted on
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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