Swiss NGO HEKS/EPER yesterday announced a five-year strategy that will see nearly $8 million poured into programmes that tackle food security, access to water, good governance, and the cashew nut value chain, among others.
Covering the years 2018-2022, the HEKS/EPER Foundation’s programme directly targets 100,000 people in the provinces of Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Tboung Khmum, Kratie, Mondulkiri, and Stung Treng.
“The new HEKS/EPER’s programme will increase food security and income from agricultural market systems, secure access to land, water and other natural resources, improve intra and intergroup relationship and enhance good governance,” said Dr Marc Zoss, head of the Asia and Europe department at HEKS/EPER.
Also introduced as part of the programme was a project that focuses on the value chain of cashew nuts.
The Cashew Value Chain and Access to Land project will improve livelihoods and land tenure security of poor rural communities and indigenous people in Kratie, Stung Treng and Mondulkiri, said Sivouthan Norng, HEKS/EPER country director.
He said the project will focus on supply chain development, access to quality inputs, dissemination of technical know-how and access to quality seedlings.
“In order to secure farmers’ access to land, the project will support indigenous communities who are involved in communal land titling processes and strengthen alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the three provinces,” Mr Norng said.
“The project aims at directly benefiting around 12,000 households and 51,000 people, at least 40 percent of them women.
“The project will apply a market system development approach and a human rights-based approach,” he added.
Hean Vanhan, Secretary of State at the ministry, welcomed the work of the Swiss NGO, stressing the importance of upskilling farmers now that their products are being sold beyond the borders of the Kingdom more often.
Mr Vanhan asked HEKS/EPER and other development partners to consider the government’s industrial development policy when planning their work in the Kingdom.
“As per our policy, the government will provide incentives to companies involved in processing activities, help coordinate the logistics, facilitate trade and conduct market research to determine the best products for export, as well as study ways of adding value to the production chain,” Mr Vanhan said.
The government considers cashew one of ten crops of strategic importance. Land used for cashew plantations expanded notably last year, reaching 149,660 hectares.
The crop is grown in 22 provinces across Cambodia, with Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Kratie, and Ratanakkiri as the top producers. Last year, national output equalled 116,343 tonnes.
In 2017, Cambodia exported 73,000 tonnes of cashew nuts. Almost all of it was sent to neighbouring Vietnam.