Despite Cambodia’s rapid economic growth, agriculture remains an important sector in the Cambodian economy (29% of GDP) and provides employment to 53% of the rural work force.
Most Cambodian farmers are smallholders with less than two hectares of land per household. A significant portion of the population remains ‘near poor’ and is at high risk of falling back into poverty at the slightest income shock. With more than 65% of Cambodian women engaged in farming, women-headed households and children (29% malnutrition rate) are the most vulnerable.
Low productivity of smallholder agriculture is the result of limited access to quality agricultural inputs, technical know-how and innovation, as well as marketing opportunities and market information. Pressure on water resources and the effects of climate change are additional challenges.
The fast economic growth has resulted in more demand for safe local fruits and vegetables. This provides a huge opportunity for smallholder farmers and processors, particularly women, to increase income and food security.
Responding to these challenges and opportunities, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has developed the Cambodian Horticulture Advancing Income and Nutrition (CHAIN) programme in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries through the General Department of Agriculture (GDA) and the provincial departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF).
“Switzerland is very proud to launch this important and innovative project which was developed with the beneficiaries and responsible authorities,” said SDC Country Director Mrs. Carin Salerno, “it builds upon the market potentials created by fast economic growth also in isolated farmer communities. It starts from the needs and priorities of the smallholder farmer, women and ethnic minorities and links them with input suppliers and traders in the value chain while promoting a sustainable and safe fruit and vegetable sector and market for the future. It’s a real win-win situation for both, the rural farmers and Cambodian markets.”
CHAIN Phase I has reached out to 6,000 farmers and processors (70% women and 10% indigenous people). Vegetable farmers increased crop yields and farm incomes, while households consumed more vegetables.
Building on the good experiences and success of the first phase, CHAIN Phase ll will continue to use the market development approach aimed at strengthening the inclusion of over 10’000 rural smallholder farmers with a strong focus on women in the horticulture value chain to secure better access to agricultural goods and services and to gain higher incomes.
“We are very excited to launch the second phase of CHAIN. We will continue to collaborate with relevant market actors – farmers, input retailers, vegetable traders, and others – to address vegetable sector constraints and support pro-poor innovations in the market. This phase of the project will focus on developing the market for local, safe vegetables, which will provide opportunities for smallholder farmers, especially women, to increase their income and resilience. This will also be a big win for local consumers who want to provide their families with safe vegetables grown here in Cambodia,” says Marieke van Schie, CHAIN Team Leader.
SDC has awarded the implementation of the project to a consortium consisting of the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) as lead agency, the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation (Swisscontact) and local partners.
The CHAIN project is aligned with the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) strategic orientation for the agriculture sector (ASDP 2014-2018), aiming at an annual growth of 5% through enhanced productivity, diversification and commercialization while making more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.
For more information please contact:
Mr. Hem Sovannarith, Programme Manager for Agriculture and Food Security, SDC Cambodia, Tel: +855 89 666 092
Ms. Marieke van Schie, Team Leader of CHAIN, SNV Cambodia, Tel: +855 92 995647