When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 9 September 2012

Yang Saing Koma is lean, soft spoken and modest – not your typical image of a revolutionary. But for 15 years, the Cambodian agronomist has driven a grassroots revolution that is changing farming and livelihoods in one of the least developed countries in Asia.

A champion of farmer-led innovation in sustainable agriculture, Koma founded the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) in 1997. Today, it is the largest agricultural and rural development organisation in Cambodia, supporting 140,000 farmer families in 21 provinces.

However, he isn’t just another western educated Asian expert returning home to shake things up. Yes, his doctorate from the University of Leipzig and work experience with international development agencies helped open doors. But Koma is a rare systemic thinker who sees the bigger picture, has the right…

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