by the Cambodian Farmers Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP Cambodia)
In Cambodia, droughts, floods, heavy rains and high temperatures threaten and destroy farmers’ crops, especially affecting smallholders.
Irrigation systems are not very solid in the Country, as there is limited capacity to store water for uses in dry season while in rainy season floods often occur. Moreover, the majority of existing lakes, rivers and canals became shallow and are disappearing from year to year in a worrying way.
In addition to that, increased temperatures of about 42 Degrees Celsius in some months, in particular April to June, almost occurred every year in these last decade.
Smallholders in Cambodia have very limited capacity to make their farms resilient to the impacts of climate change such as heavy rains, drought and strong wind that can destroy their crops easily. Increasing temperatures put more pressure on smallholders in Cambodia as they lack the capital to extend their farms, while most rural farming families are in debt with high-interest rates.
In response to these concerns, CFAP conducted various studies/researches through meetings with farmer members in operational areas in Cambodia to assess what challenges and problems they were facing. Some of the challenges they raised regarded i.e. lack of irrigation systems, lack of water sources, droughts, floods, poor soil quality, youth migration to urban areas, no access to capital and markets.
Participants in these meetings also got the opportunity to discuss in a group how to find applicable solutions for their farming communities by themselves in response to their challenges with the support of CFAP’s experts as the federation of smallholders. After the meetings, the federation had sufficient evidence to develop action plans, in order to seek external funding to support farmers:
- The federation developed and designed a household pond model to ensure that smallholders can grow vegetables in a year-round with sufficient water source to cover their small plots of vegetable farmland of at least 250 square meters;
- Posters, leaflets and cropping calendar were prepared for distribution to farmer members with a clear explanation of technical protocols and schedule of growing crops, veggies and rice as well as treatment for animals (poultries);
- Training manuals for extension workers/trainers were provided together with technical training onsite to farmer members and advisory support accordingly to make sure that sub-national farmers’ organisations as members are qualified to provide technical training courses to farmer members in a professional manner;
- The federation also provided specific training of trainers (ToT) to local experts at the sub-national level for giving extension services to farmer members directly at their respective constituency with coaching support by CFAP;
- On-site training about household ponds, windmills, water pumping machines, brick raised beds, and new agricultural practices by using plastic mulch and net houses for vegetable production was given by CFAP. Training lessons were conducted at CFAP’s training centre;
- The federation provided facilitation services for farmers as well, fostering their access to the markets value chain, through networking among smallholders and big buyers/traders, street sellers and supermarkets;
- Moreover, the federation acted in support of small scale businesses of sub-national farmers’ organisations (SNFOs) through the collective sale of rice seeds, vegetables, feeding rice, poultries and other commodities included pineapple and melon to supermarkets and also amongst the SNFOs vis-à-vis. Involvement of sub-national farmers’ organisations included the federation herself into other development programmes in Cambodia such as IFAD’s projects.
Smallholders received intervention from the project as planned, and even though the amount of support was small and limited, it was a real opportunity for smallholders to share knowledge and upscale. Moreover, best practices were studied further for scaling-up to other farming communities or operational areas of the federation in the future.
Those who received knowledge and materials could continue to apply new practices to overcome the challenges faced and sharing experiences with other farmers. The youth got interested in agriculture and might not migrate from the villages as many as before. Smallholders could grow in a rotation system with quality and avoiding producing more than local market demands. Smallholders could grow in a year-round with household ponds, raised beds, net houses, water pumping machines, windmills etc.
Knowledge about agricultural technical skills, marketing, business planning, economic literacy, financial and organizational management was applied for the institutional sustainability and services delivering to farmers for the long run. The added value of farmers’ organisations was also understood well by farmers, in particular farmer leaders. No negative impacts during and after the project execution were found. Smallholders got access to collective sale and purchases at better prices.
The involvement of the producers in this initiative in terms of knowledge empowerment is essential for its success and sustainability, this is one of the most important aspects to highlight from the project. “Farmers Advisory Services” project has focused on increasing adaptation to climate change and variability through the implementation of water harvesting and efficient pumping and distribution. This practice also enables continuous production throughout the year, which contributes to increasing adaptation and productivity CSA pillars.
One key element to consider in these initiatives in order to enable scaling processes is to build the capacity of farmers in understanding climate, how it affects crops and which are the tools available to make better-informed decisions in the short and medium terms. This might also support the generation of production surplus in addition to self-consumption production so that farmers can have additional income. Moreover, the project may also address the mitigation pillar of CSA by exploring pumping systems with alternative energy sources in order to reduce the use of fossil fuels.