A $17 million project funded by the US government that aims to accelerate growth in Cambodia’s commercial horticulture sector and help farmers in four provinces to connect with buyers and improve market linkages was launched yesterday.
The Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II project will be implemented over a period of five years in Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces, said a USAID announcement.
Alexis Ellicott, Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II chief of party, said the project will identify buyers and link them to farmers to meet their demand.
“We are not counting the number of farmers necessarily, but if we’d like some numbers, we are anticipating an increase of $37 million in sales in horticulture, $12 million in investment in the horticulture sector, and 18,000 jobs created,” Ms Ellicott said.
The project, in part, is to help Cambodia reduce imports of vegetables from neighboring countries, Ms Ellicott said.
“Cambodian farmers are better linked to buyers and they will be able to get more products to markets which will then provide more options for consumers.
“We hope it will happen in the next five years, where Cambodian farmers can produce more products in markets where there is demand,” she added.
Research conducted by the Centre for Policy Studies shows that Cambodia imports between 200 to 400 tonnes of vegetables daily from neighboring countries. The research found that between $150 million and $250 million is spent annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China.
The project also aims to provide farmers with better market and climate information so that it will increase their resilience to price fluctuations and extreme weather events.
“With more accurate and timely access to market information, including seasonal demand and price fluctuations, producers will be able to plan their cropping cycles based on actual market demand. Collectors will be able to offer producers higher prices for growing more competitive crops,” stated a document from the project.
Polly Dunford, USAID Cambodia mission director, said that the project will help the Cambodian government achieve its vision of growing enough safe vegetables for consumption by 2030.
“Around 70 percent of Cambodia’s population are reliant on agriculture. We believe that Cambodia can produce more healthy and nutrient vegetables to meet the people’s demand,” Ms Dunford said.
“This is the reason that we are working with the Cambodian government, expert companies, and universities, as well as farmers.”
Chhim Vachira, director of Battambang’s provincial agriculture department, welcomed the project, saying it would enhance markets for horticultural products from his province.
“Besides rice, Battambang is well-known as a hub for vegetable producers that supply the northern part of the country,” said Mr Vachira.
“We face issues of quality and access to markets. So this project will help our vegetable farmers link up with buyers,” he added.
“The project will also help the province to stop importing vegetables that local farmers can grow at home.”