Cassava stakeholders workshop emphasises need for cooperation
Cassava is Cambodia’s second most important crop after rice, and in July 2014 SNV brought together a range of people to discuss improving the value chain from farmer to consumer. SNV recently conducted a study in Kampong Cham province to assess the infrastructural strengths, weakness and opportunities of Cambodia’s cassava value chain. The dissemination workshop in July offered a chance for people to scrutinize the study’s findings, share knowledge and experiences, and cooperate on strategies to improve competitiveness.
Deputy Director of the Kampong Cham Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA), Kim Thavirak, officially opened the workshop session. In his speech, he acknowledged the potential for upscaling cassava production and emphasised the need for policy, technical and marketing support. The SNV-supported study discussed at the workshop revealed a lack of of modern production techniques in Cambodia, along with increasing challenges from pests and diseases. It also found that the market structure needs general improvement.
Mr. Navann from the Kampong Cham PDA noted that each actor has their own challenges, which have never been solved collectively. “Participation from all actors is very important to address all the challenges in the cassava value chain,” he said. To cope with challenges such as fluctuating market prices, participants discussed ways to strengthen producer associations; improve communication between different groups in the value chain from farmers to processors, middlemen, government and other institutions; and to make trading conditions more favourable. Participants identified a number of solutions that farmers themselves can implement, such as improved farming techniques and better communication among themselves and others in the value chain. Meanwhile, they suggested government and institutions could assist by introducing economic and market measures to help resolve price instability.
In partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), SNV is already introducing new fertiliser techniques and testing intercropping under the Inclusive Business Models with Smallholder Cassava Farmers project. SNV is also supporting local organisation Vigilance to spearhead producer group formation and management. The resulting consortium will work together to establish the contract-farming concept in order to address imbalanced markets, particularly price fluctuation. To keep the momentum and continue the cooperation, SNV will later organize a multi-stakeholder value chain workshop at the commune level in the target area.
The Director of the Kampong Cham Provincial Department of Agriculture, Kim Saveoun, closed the workshop. There were 90 participants in total (of whom 18 were women), including government staff, farmers and other members of the value chain such as financiers, suppliers, 'middlemen' and processors.