The Cambodia Horticulture Advancing Income and Nutrition project (CHAIN) is an 8-year programme funded by SDC to support the development of the Horticultural Sector in Cambodia and follows a market systems approach.
Horticulture is an important part of the agricultural economy of Cambodia due to a rapidly increasing urban consumption demand for fruits and vegetables. More than 50% of all vegetables used to be imported from neighbouring countries due to price competitiveness, challenges in logistics, and the ability for year-round production.
Imported vegetables have serious pesticide residue related with food-safety issues. In phase one and 2 (2014 – 2020), CHAIN worked on promoting safe locally-produced vegetables and contributed to increasing local supply from 50% to 60% in the provinces. CHAIN began with a push approach to create a critical mass of producers and technologies reaching over 10,000 vegetable producing households.
Later on, the programme focussed on a B2B approach improving the services for inputs, extension and the business relationships, enabling 6000 farmers to graduate to semi-commercial or commercial producers. The last two years of the programme will consolidate these results, working in close collaboration with the national and provincial government on improving the enabling environment, including national policy and provincial strategies. Additionally, the programme will help develop greater climate resilience through promoting year-round production, smart water solutions, and water resource management in selected districts.
CHAIN applies various successful cornerstone interventions for market development:
- Push for use of production technologies through demo-farms, including growing nets, drip irrigation, quality seeds, plastic mulch, shaded greenhouses, and mechanised land preparation. Demo-farms were carried out with co-investment from the farmer-owners and the private sector.
- Improved delivery of practical extension services provided by the sector actors, including enhancements to government extension services, training of input supply companies, and the establishment of a cadre of lead farmers (who also provide a range of other services, including grafting, aggregation, trading, and retail channels).
- Cluster Approach supporting market linkages and B2B relationships. CHAIN worked with clustered farmer groups, bringing them and private sector actors together to build better business linkages and long-term relationships.
- Lead Farmer Incubator supporting lead farmers with business skills for vegetable aggregation and input sales to group members.
- Rural Business Accelerator supporting SMEs, vegetable collectors, traders, market sellers and input retailers with improved business skills to expand their business.
- Consumer promotion including using market stalls to sell and promote safe local vegetables of good quality in a hygienic way. The programme also organized a campaign called “Planted by Khmer” in Phnom Penh to promote local vegetables and rolled out quality standards and control systems for GAP and Organic (CAMGAP and CAMORG).
- Smart water solutions and water resource enhancement through promotion of year-round production with smart water solutions and pilots of water resource management.
- Policy development by supporting the development of the national horticultural policy of Cambodia and Provincial Horticultural Strategies.
- CHAIN has reached 10,000 households in 400 farmer groups
- About 6000 farmers are semi-commercial or commercial
- Over 70% of farmers reached are women
- 65 traders across four regions have increased local sourcing
- 27 input retailers across four regions demonstrating increased business
- Creation and incubation of 14 business clusters
Initial Systems Change indications
Input-selling companies (vegetable seed companies like East-West, Angkor Green, irrigation equipment suppliers, and greenhouse suppliers) have increased their sales, some by tenfold in the 4 provinces. Many input retailers are establishing business linkages far in the provinces, and now you can buy horticultural inputs where none existed before.
Vegetable markets sellers report that an increasing amount of vegetables sold daily is coming from local produced areas. And consumers are inquiring and preferring these vegetables.
- Farmers have reported more consistent supply arrangements to buyers and increased incomes.
- Contracting companies like EAC, Agri-on, REMIC and NAV are doing business in the 4 provinces whereas there were no commercial farmers to source from before.
- Government (GDA, PDAFF) has recognised these changes and is closely partnering with CHAIN for the final two years of the project.
CHAIN will document the lessons and experiences of the programme into various knowledge products for local actors to use, and for practitioners/donors on markets systems.
Commercial and homestead producers and processors (male- and female-headed households) increase productivity by adapting improved technologies
Farmer groups and processor groups provide demand-oriented services and facilitate transparent and fair market engagement
Public and private sector actors deliver demand-driven, gender-sensitive and accountable advisory services