528. Poverty alleviation through strengthening of farmers’ economy

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Country: Cambodia
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Siem Reap economy is rapidly growing dominated by tourism sector creating many jobs for people in Siem Reap municipality who enjoy a bit better lives compared to people living at rural communities. Farmers still face food insecurity and malnutrition mainly for women and children due to low agricultural yield which farmers solely depend on. Malnutrition is a common contributing cause of death among children. With the tourism driven economy, Siem Reap becomes a huge market for agricultural products which creates potential opportunities for farmers in Siem Reap province mainly from the districts surrounding the city. However, from the research and lesson learnt, as well as from direct meetings with potential project stakeholders it has become clear that poor farmers difficult to access this market due to the fact that this market would need a big amount of secured and regular supply of good quality diversified agricultural products which farmers in Siem Reap cannot afford yet due to lacking of production skill and supported services which are as below:

  1. Farmers lack in depth technical knowledge and skills of agriculture, from pre-farming to farming and post-harvest
  2. No mechanism and capacity to deal with big orders/lots of products demanded by market; farmers work at individual level, there are no farmers cooperatives which can be used as a marketing tool/mechanism;
  3. Farmers have little access to market information and face competition from well-organized agro-businessmen and importers;
  4. Limited access to special credit lines that fit with agricultural production and cycle
  5. Most of farmers’ products quality is lost during post-harvest period with unavoidable loose of market value and competiveness
  6. Limited platform for farmers to work cooperatively and sharing skill such as farmers’ cooperative and cooperative alliance

Previously, CTO had been focusing singly on physical agricultural infrastructures such as irrigation canal construction and limited focus on new agricultural technology transfer, and lack of focusing on commercial oriented skills, financial awareness, and farmer based-commercial institution development such as cooperatives. But now we can realize that this project is a cornerstone for CTOs in strengthening its capacity and experiences in working with farmers and farmers to promote farmers economy. By implementing the project, CTO has come to see a new way to help farmers to be more productive, more market oriented and more entrepreneurial for their farming. Up to now we have supported more than 50 families by firstly deliver the basic agricultural knowledge and market-led training then sent them to exposure visit and after that support resource to set up the model. All of them sort as cluster of farmer like vegetable producer group and livestock producer group. Here we would like to present a story of change among all of these farmer producer groups. Under coordination of CTO all member of farmer producer group have to develop the business plan and submit this proposal to the selection committee. So the committee works independently to select the suitable farmer proposal base to following criteria: 1/ Good business plan 2/Active farmer 3/Able to prove the contribution as labor work to set up model, resource support and high commitment to ensure the business plan implementing. After this selection process completely done, then CTO start to allocate the capital and resource as approved plan. Moreover, to ensure the sustainable and transparency, CTO has come up with a few conditions before the selection: 1/Farmer model has to share failure or successful model to the group, 2/Farmer must to have permanence residence, 3/Familiar with the project they proposed, 4/Honest with willing to contribute time to participate in the whole cycle of project 5/ Farmer model selected by majority of participants. Farmer Kham Khann ages 56, his wife’s ages 54 years old. They have 2 daughters and all together lived in Ta Tauk village, Puok commune, Puok district. He has 2 hectares of rice farming land with extra jobs such as chicken raising, sell labor as construction worker. He is one of winner of this business plan selection for vegetable integrate farm model. Mr.Khann said that “before, I used to farm the vegetable with traditional way, never practice any innovative technology or farm in the commercial but after participated with CTO program I gained more knowledge as new life skill to improve the family economic make more satisfied for living. and received some more useful knowledge from the series training of vegetable integrate farm, and how to develop the business plan, then I start to grow my thinking and get more ideas on an entrepreneur skill with different optional to increase more income for family. I have started with 900 square meters at my house backyard and I have prepared the farm setting follow the knowledge gains from the training, which is growing vegetable in different variety as continues whole year cycle. Before, he used to grow vegetable only one variety and can sell by its seasonal harvest, which he could not earn enough to support his family. But now he can farm on his land and produce the vegetable for the whole year cycle, such as cucumber, string been, egg plant, mushroom, tomatoes which he will expand his farm land according to the growth of his vegetable market. He said that,” He farms the rice just to produce the rice just for his family consumption and he save the money from the vegetable integrate farm. Now he lives in the happy family that can keep all his daughter’s at school regularly, also still able to contribute his free time to participate in the community development work in order to help improve his community.

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