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In Cambodia, demand for safe local fruit and vegetables has been increasing in the past few years, with a total annual domestic vegetable demand estimated at 1,1 million MT. Cambodia produces around 790.000 MT (70%) of these locally with 310.000 MT (30%) imported, worth approximately 180 million USD. This offers tremendous opportunities for small and medium-sized farmers to generate higher incomes and contribute to national food security, as well as for market actors like input dealers and traders to expand their businesses.

CHAIN's third phase

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, the Swiss Organisation for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Royal Government of Cambodia launched recently the third phase of the Cambodia Horticulture Advancing Income and Nutrition (CHAIN) project. The partners will work closely together in this phase supporting the market systems interventions in four of the poorest provinces of the country. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to this effect was signed, witnessed by H.E Veng Sakhon the Minister of Agriculture between the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and SNV.

Presiding over the MOU signing event, H. E. Veng Sakhon said, 'CHAIN-3 is in line with the Agriculture Sector Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023 and its vision of transforming Cambodian agriculture into a modern sector which is endowed with competitive advantages, including climate change resilience and sustainability, and that creates prosperity and wellbeing for Cambodians.'

Eight-year project

SNV implements the CHAIN project, with a total budget of around USD 10M for eight years (2014-2022), with funding by SDC and in collaboration with international partners Swisscontact and MetaMeta.

'We strongly hope that, in close cooperation with national and sub-national levels of MAFF and various partners, the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and SNV are able to develop an effective joint plan of action for successful implementation of CHAIN-3 for 2021-2023,' said Mr. Markus Buerli, new Director of Cooperation and Development of SDC and Counselor of the Swiss Embassy in Cambodia during his welcoming speech at the event.

Sustaining market system changes

CHAIN is working in close collaboration with farmers, private sector, and the Government to sustain the market system changes witnessed in the previous phases: increased market linkages of input suppliers, producers and traders through cluster strengthening; use of technology for horticulture production (greenhouses, agronomy, mechanization); and sustained extension services through the companies, lead farmers and Provincial Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery (PDAFF).

'By promoting safe vegetable production and providing access to appropriate technologies and market linkages, productivity and profitability of vegetable farming are improved,' said Alexandra Mandelbaum, the Country Director of SNV in Cambodia.

10,000 vegetable farmers

CHAIN has worked with 10,000 vegetable farmers (75% women), of which 3,000 are functioning at commercial levels with 65 vegetable traders, 27 input retailers, and 14 business clusters.

A joint five-day visit was organised between MAFF, SDC and SNV to witness some of the changes which CHAIN had brought to vegetable growing and marketing in the provinces. The Secretary of State, His Excellency Dr Hean Vanhan, recommended the CHAIN interventions be upscaled and used by the government elsewhere in order to increase farmer incomes substantially and decrease imports even more.

CHAIN-1 worked with many farmers using a push approach on vegetable production, thus creating a critical mass of supply and linking farmers to buyers, and through demonstrations creating effective market demand for improved inputs and technologies. CHAIN-2 moved gradually more to a Business-to-Business (B2B) and cluster approach, whereby the market actors themselves provided training and access to inputs to farmers, and made buying and contracting arrangements.

CHAIN-3 will support expansion of the pilots for year-round production, smart water solutions, and climate-resilient water resource management with selected farmer groups and districts. It will support the capacities and strategies for horticultural development at the subnational level, as well as national sector coordination (policies, standards, and platforms) in close collaboration with the General Department of Agriculture.

Rik Overmars

Agriculture Sector Leader