The second phase of the Cambodia Horticulture Advancing Income and Nutrition Project (CHAIN), a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) that focuses on boosting productivity and incomes in the agricultural sector, launched yesterday.
The initiative is a collaboration with a range of Cambodian stakeholders, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Woman Affairs.
It aims to improve food security, nutrition and incomes for smallholder farmers, ethnic minorities and small entrepreneurs in the provinces of Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey.
With a budget of $10 million, the programme will run for eight years, from December 2014, when phase I started, to December 2022, when the project officially ends.
According to project representatives, from December 2017 to December 2020, the project will invest $4.8 million in the local agricultural sector.
CHAIN is being implemented by Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Swisscontact Cambodia.
Hem Sovannarith, SDC’s programme manager for agriculture and food security, said CHAIN’s priority is to develop local horticulture value chains.
Women are key beneficiaries of the project, which seeks to improve household incomes and access to proper nutrition, he said.
All in all, by 2022, the project is expected to have helped 15,000 smallholder farmers, 3,000 commercial farmers and 1,200 entrepreneurs, while improving food security and nutrition for more than 72,000 Cambodians.
“In this second phase there is a stronger emphasis on strengthening the market system, to realize systemic market changes in which private and public partners deliver effective services.
“We’re focusing on microfinance, market access and market data to meet the needs of the targeted farmers,” Mr Sovannarith said.
SDC’s country director Carin Salerno said Cambodia’s fast economic growth has resulted in more demand for safe local fruits and vegetables which provides a huge opportunity for smallholder farmers and businesspeople, particularly women, to boost their income and increase food security.
More than 50 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in Cambodia are imported from Thailand, Vietnam and China, Ms Salerno pointed out.
“CHAIN 2 will continue to use the market development approach aimed at strengthening the inclusion of poor people with a strong focus on women in the market to secure better access to agriculture goods and services and to gain higher incomes,” she said.
“The key element of this approach is a facilitation process for involving private and public partnerships as well as civil society organisations in the delivery of goods and services on the input and output side of the horticulture value chains.”
According to SDC, CHAIN’s second phase has three complementary intervention areas – improving service delivery to farmers; catalysing market development and inclusive business relationships between suppliers, traders, buyers and farmers; and strengthening the enabling environment for continued support to the local horticulture sector.
Ty Sokhun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, welcomed the launching of the second phase of the programme.
He said the provinces covered by the project suffer from endemic malnutrition and low living standards, and that not enough development organisations are working on the ground in this part of the country.
“This is a good project. It covers everyone involved in the sector, including smallholder and commercial farmers. I am sure it will boost their incomes and skills.
“We want more projects like this.”