CHAIN reaction for better nutrition & livelihoods


News

“With the right techniques and support, growing more fruit and vegetables right here in Cambodia will strengthen local economies, improve food security and empower low income farmers.” So says SNV Cambodia's Country Director, Mr. Eric van Waveren at the announcement that on behalf of the Swiss Agency for Development & Co-operation (SDC), SNV will lead a consortium with The World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) and Swisscontact in the Cambodian Horticulture for Accelerating Income and Nutrition (CHAIN) project.

More than 40 % of the rural poor suffer from food insecurity. The increasing market demand for vegetable and fruits provides a huge opportunity for small holder farmers and processors, in particular women to increase income and food security. Based on close consultations with key stakeholders in Cambodia and in particular the MAFF, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland’s governmental development cooperation agency, has designed the “Cambodian Horticulture for Accelerating Income and Nutrition” (CHAIN) project.

CHAIN will support female and male farmers and processors in increasing sustainable production, income and resilience in four of the poorest provinces of Cambodia, namely in Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Oddar Manchey. With its particular focus on fruits and vegetables, the project will tackle the key constraints of poverty and malnutrition in the four provinces, targeting in particular women farmers and ethnic minorities who have a limited access to productive assets. It is expected to provide sustainable income growth to 15,000 homestead farmers and improved household food security and nutrition to 24,000 households.

The CHAIN project translates the focus of the SDC Country Strategy for Cambodia 2013-2017 on supporting Cambodia’s poor and marginalised women and men in equitable access to economic opportunities, improved livelihoods and participation in decision-making. “Switzerland is very proud to launch this important and innovative project which was developed with the beneficiaries and responsible authorities,” said SDC Country Director Mrs. Rahel Boesch. “It builds upon the market potentials created by fast economic growth also to isolated farmer communities. It starts from the needs and priorities of the farmer small holders, women and ethnic minorities and links with promoting and sustaining a fruit and vegetable industry and market for the future. A real win win situation for both, the poor rural farmers and Cambodian markets.”

CHAIN is also aligned with the Cambodian Government strategic orientation and its vision for the agriculture sector (NSDP 2014-2018), aimed at an annual growth of 5% through enhanced productivity, diversification and commercialisation. Moreover, it translates the strong focus of the government Gender strategy, the Neary Rattanak 2014-2018 by having a specific focus on women’s economic empowerment in the agriculture sector. The overall timeframe of the CHAIN project will be eight years, spread over three (3) implementation phases. The phase I was initiated in December 2014 with a budget of CHF 3.58 million (approximately US$ 3.77 million) and will last until November 2017, benefiting 6,200 poor households, ethnic minorities’ farmers and small processors. 

Despite Cambodia’s rapid economic progress, many farmers still live below the poverty line. Their crops are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change, and furthermore, traditional diets contribute to Cambodia’s high child malnutrition rates. By supporting a diversification of diets and income sources this new development project aims to make changes to these serious problems. Meanwhile, the demand for fruit and vegetables is increasing, yet currently they are mostly imported from Thailand and Vietnam.

The project announced today aims to help smallholder farmers diversify into growing fruit and vegetables themselves. In cooperation with the Royal Government of Cambodia and various private sector partners, it will introduce modern horticultural techniques and the support people need to generate much-needed additional income, plus options for eating better too. “This is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen a much-neglected sector in a much neglected region in Cambodia,” said Mr. Eric van Waveren, SNV Cambodia’s Country Director.