After the orientation on climate change vulnerability impact assessment tools with government counterparts from provincial department of environment, agriculture and women’s affairs in environmental department of Kampong Thom, the Life and Nature project team together with those government counterparts carried out VIA in Lvea Krang micro watershed and Po Pok micro watershed from 14 to 21 September 2015.
I myself was part of the team to conduct the VIA study in these target areas. Based on the study, I could know that agriculture is main food and income source for the farmers’ families in the studied commune. Cassava is just planted as cash crop to make income for the family. However, sustainable of cassava production is in doubted while soil fertility has degraded from year to year. In Lvea Kraing, the cassava yield has decreased from 40t/ha to only about 20t/ha, while the farmers in Kampong Thom could harvest cassava only about 20t/ha.
Currently, the farmers in PoPok commune, Stoung district of Kampong Thom province planted different crops in their agricultural land (Chamkar), including the planting of cashew nut. The farmers said that they can get better incomes for their families while they plant cassava for selling. However, the yield is decreasing and the cassava price is fixed by cassava collectors or traders while the farmers have no negotiation power or influence on the selling price.
There are some key challenges in agricultural production, including shortage of water, pest infestation, and lack of climate resilient agricultural practices to cope with these climate issues. Women and children are the most vulnerable people in the study commune while they have limited resources, knowledge and technical capacity to deal with those climate issues.
The farmers raised that addressing water shortage issue, and capacity building on integrated pest management and climate smart agriculture practices will significantly help them to improve their agricultural production and livelihood.
Under the climate change and micro watershed project, funded by global environment facility (GEF), FAO in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) organized a training on VIA for approxi. 30 government officials from provincial department of environment, agriculture, women’s affairs, in 4 provinces (Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri), the training organized for 2 days from 10-11 September 2015 at PDA office in Kampong Thom province.
Objectives were to enhance technical skills of the government counterparts to conduct climate change vulnerability impact assessment. After the training, those trained counterparts will participate in carrying out the VIA in the project’s field sites.
Several tools included in the training such as Historical timeline, hazard mapping, a day life, women’s empowerment and livelihood, SWOT analysis, seasonal calendar, and venn diagram.
All of these tools are PRA tools, but climate change lens are included to ensure that the climate change aspects are included in the study. It is to note that findings from the VIA will be used for preparing the training curriculum, design of the project intervention for each specific site, etc.
As a national agronomist for the project “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia (Life and Nature: GCP/CMB/036/LDF)”, I participated in the first project coordination meeting organized at Himawari Hotel, on 17 August 2015.
It is to notice that FAO partners with MOE is implementing the project mentioned above to build adaptive capacity of rural communities and reduce their vulnerability to Climate Change through micro-watershed management and climate resilient agriculture practices to ensure food security of thousands farmers in 4 micro-watersheds in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakiri provinces.
The Project Coordination Committee (PCC) serves as a platform that relevant project stakeholders at the national level can be used for the purpose of discussion, problem solving, learning and reflection. The specific focus of the PCC is on technical components of the project, in particular, in relation to policy guidance, implementation and the coordination of activities. PCC created with composition of representatives from different government line ministries/departments.
The first meeting of the PCC was organized with 13 PCC members to understand nature of the Life and Nature project, to discuss and finalize roles/responsibilities of the PCC as well as to gather comment from PCC members on the proposed annual work plan of the Life and Nature project.
The PCC members are representatives from Ministry of Environment, Cambodian Agriculture Research and Development Institute, Forestry Administration, Royal University of Agriculture, Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Agriculture, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN).
During the meeting, PCC members discussed frequency of the PCC meeting, how the life and nature project work at the sub national level, procurement process, composition of the PCC members, roles and repsonibilties of the PCC, and some other issues.
The meeting finished with fruitful results. Some actions to take are:
Investigate FAO and GEF regulations how the project provides fund to commune councils
Prepare and submit revised declaration to minister for signing (other 2 MOE officials to be added in the PCC)
Roles and responsibility of the PCC Chairs to be highlighted in the revised Declaration
Revise PCC TOR
Create Dropbox for storage and sharing of relevant document / information
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Ministry of Environment jointly launched the Global Environmental Facility funded project “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia (Life and Nature).”
17 August 2015, Phnom Penh – Climate change in Cambodia is being given increased attention as smallholder farmers face challenges of prolonged drought, extreme flooding and unpredictable rainfall which have had serious impacts on the rural poor, particularly women and indigenous people. Such impacts include reduced agricultural production, food insecurity, and unstable livelihood options. Furthermore, limited capacity in integrated watershed management is adding to the vulnerabilities of farmers from climate change and depletion of natural resources.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Environment of the Royal Government of Cambodia (MOE) jointly organized a full day national inception workshop at Himawari Hotel, on 17th August 2015 to raise awareness of the project entitled “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia” (Life and Nature). The project will be implemented by FAO and MOE in four selected micro-watersheds in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri provinces.
The event was presided over by H.E. Say Sam Al, Minister of Environment and Ms.Nina Brandstrup, FAO Representative in Cambodia, and included presentations by the project team on the main outcomes and strategies for implementation. The commune councilors gave an excellent overview of the climate change impacts they are facing and potential solutions with project assistance to the reverse these impacts. The afternoon session focused on the project organizational and management structure, annual work plan, etc.
“Under an agreement signed on 3 Jun 2014, all project partners shall strengthen their collaboration to better address continuing food insecurity, climate change challenges, and natural resources management” said H.E. Say Sam Al, Minister of Environment.
In her welcome speech, Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO Representative stated that “Cambodia is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change in the medium- to longer term and is highly vulnerable to climate variability in the short term. Over time, agricultural productivity will be reduced and will negatively impact on livelihoods of the rural populations if we ignore climate change. The rural poor and the “near poor” will be the most affected as their capacity to adapt to the new environmental constraints is low. This will exacerbate the existing food security challenges and economic hardships and we must act now”.
Speaking in the workshop, Dr. Stacy Crevello, Chief Technical Adviser and project leader stated that “the Life and Nature project aims to build adaptive capacity of rural communities and reduce their vulnerability to Climate Change through micro-watershed management and climate resilient agriculture practices to ensure food security”. She added that “this will be done by integrating Climate Change Adaptation into agricultural and food security policies and planning; participatory watershed management to reduce climate impacts on natural resources and agriculture; demonstrating and promoting climate resilient agricultural practices through farmer field schools, and support alternative livelihood options for women”.
Ms. Leam Sangim, a female commune Councillor from Kulen Chheung commune in Preah Vihear province expressed that “through the implementation of this project, vulnerable women in my commune will have improved their agricultural and business skills to adapt to climate change”.
One recommendation of this workshop ensure close collaboration with local authorities, relevant government departments, NGOs, and other stakeholders at the community level to provide greater benefits for community members.
The workshop were well attended by representatives from government ministries/departments, including officials from the Ministry of Environment, the General Directorate of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, the Ministry of Rural Development also from the provincial level. The workshop was also well attended by non-governmental organizations, commune councilors, and community members.
Life and Nature project team followed up progress of the organization of the project inception workshop that will be organized on 17 August 2017 at Himawari Hotel, in Phnom Penh.
In general, everything was on track.
It is to note that the Life and Nature project is implementing by FAO Cambodia through close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and coordination with other government line ministries/departments such as General Directorate of Agriculture of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, etc. The project is funded by Global Environment Facility with a total budget of approxi. 5 millions for implementing in 4 selected watersheds in Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Ratanakiri in the duration of 5 years from 2015 to 2019.
The project inception workshop will be chaired by H.E. Say Sam Al, minister of the Ministry of Environment and Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO representatives with participation of approximately 80 participants from the four pilot watersheds. Government officials from relevant government ministries & department at national and sub-national level will also attend the workshop.
Under the Life and Nature project, FAO in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) organized a 3-day training from 21 to 23 July 2015, in PDE office in Preah Vihear town, for 28 local authorities and stakeholders (3 women), the participants consisted of commune councilors, PDE officials, community rangers from four pilot sites (Ratanakiri, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces).
The objectives of the training was to enable the community representatives to prepare and present related issues of their communities for the project inception workshop that expected to be organized on 17 August 2015 in Phnom Penh. The first day of the training mainly focused on the general concept of the project, climate change, watershed management, and gender. The second day discussed facilitation and presentation skills needed for the participants to prepare their presentations for the project inception workshop, and finally exercises on the presentation, reflection on the training and planning were conducted in the third day of the training. It is important to notice that adult learning methodologies (such as small group discussion, plenary presentation, question and answer forum…) were used during the training.
As a result, the participants have gained understanding and skills that will enable them to prepare for the project inception workshop. The trainers have identified some potential participants in each project sites to be invited to attend and make presentation of their communities in the project inception workshop. At the same time, this training has built a good cooperation and communication between FAO and the MOE to smoothly implement the Life and Nature project.
A Participatory Enterprise Development Training was the last training session organized by EU-MALIS project before its completion by end of June 2015. The objective of the training was to investigate farmers’ behaviors and to find out how the farmers can increase their income from rice (rice production and selling). This training also informed the farmers, local authorities and stakeholders about a new FAO’s project, called “Life and Nature project”.
Mr. Terry Davis was the main trainer (he is an Australian volunteer with FAO-EU MALIS project). First, the training was organized for 12 FAO staffs to enable them to facilitate the same training process for 17 farmers and commune councilors (7 women) in the second stage. Additionally, two government officials from Agriculture Department and District Agriculture Office also participated as the observers and speaker during the training. Participatory Learning approach / Adult Learning methodologies were used during the training. Terry said “the main tool for adult learners is question”, this means that the learners are encouraged to raise questions and to make decision by themselves. Main topics of the training focused on target setting, calculation of gross margin from rice, price trend analysis, sharing of weakness and strength from existing rice cultivation practices, sharing of experience from average farmers on rice production practices, discussion on post-harvest and selling, sharing of experience and recommendation from the best farmers and technical experts (from FAO and PDA), and finally the participants jointly prepared their action plans what they should do to double income from rice.
As a result from the training, the farmers have gained ideas how they can improve their income from rice, the action plans were raised by the farmers, and those action plans are useful the Life and Nature project to design FFS training curriculum and interventions for Kulen Chheung commune, Preah Vihear province. The farmers, commune councilors and other local stakeholders have gained more detail about the Life and Nature project. The farmers, commune councilors and government officials from Agriculture Department/Office would continue good cooperation with the Life and Nature project. General Observations:
Calculation of the margin from the small group discussion is much different. This is because of some farmers included the fixed cost, and some other farmers did not include the fixed cost.
Speaking skill / presentation skills of the best farmers need to be further improved
A woman commune Councillor responsible for women and children is active to participate with the project – she can be a potential commune Councillor to work with
When the best farmers shared their experience, mostly focused on the solution but not much about the prevention
The training seemed more focus on the technical rice production, but not much about enterprise development. Perhaps, the farmers came out with just technical aspect at the first session of the training, and they will put more focus on the enterprise development in the next sessions.
Action plan should be prepared by the farmers, not the project staff. The project staff should not dominate the discussion – next time, farmers themselves should be the facilitators, the project staff can be the observers and help to motivate the discussion
According to vegetable farmers in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia, the peak raining season is normally from August to October 2015. Most of the vegetable farmers stop vegetable planting during this period of time due to too much rain, it created water-logging and the vegetables cannot grow well under this condition. This means that the farmers lost their food and income during these three months (Aug-Oct).
On 12 May 2015, the SNV Climate Smart Agriculture Project in cooperation with the Provincial Department of Agriculture of Svay Rieng province and Cambodian Farmer Associations Federation of Agricultural Producers (CFAP) organised a training for 28 farmer leaders from 6 communes in Svay Chrum district on the raised bed gardening. This technique can be considered as a climate smart agricultural technique because it enables the farmers to grow vegetables in the peak raining season. Farmers who experienced in applying this technique said that it is also a good water saving technique, therefore it can be also applied in the duration of water shortage. It is easy for water and soil management.
Photo of the raised bed garden is shown below
Actually, the raised bed gardening is not a new technique. Some farmers have already applied this technique, but adoption of this technique is still low. There are some observation on this technique, some people said that this technique is more appropriate for commercial farmers who produce vegetables for market supply rather the subsistence farmers who produce for family consumption. Perhaps, high investment is needed for applying this technique. For instance, construction cost of the raised bed garden could be a constraint for some (small) farmers. To address this challenge, the project will work with relevant local stakeholders to make it economically cost-effective.
The climate smart agriculture project will work with several farmers to test this innovation during this raining season. If it is successfully applied with fruitful result, it is expected that other farmers will adopt this technique to make more income from vegetable growing in the peak raining season.
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation has implemented an Asia Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Project in Tboung Khmum province since the beginning of 2014 in four countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal and Bhutan). In Cambodia, Tboung khmum is the target province of the CSA project, the project mainly work on improve cassava production through the application of climate resilient soil fertility improvement and to improve water use efficiency in family’s vegetable production in Svay Rieng province. Improving adaptive capacity of the cassava farmers is the main focus of the project. This would enable them to cope with climate change and variability through application of climate smart agriculture approach. Through the climate change vulnerability and impact assessment conducted by SNV in February 2014, depletion of soil fertility is the main challenge facing by the cassava farmers in the project’s areas. The depletion of soil fertility can be a result of monocropping application for many years. Therefore, the CSA project introduces “intercropping practice” to the cassava farmers. The project cooperated with several farmers to conduct trials “intercropping between cassava and legumes” in 2014. The result showed increase in yield, soil fertility improvement, and soil-water holding capacity. This is interesting to replicate this successful practices to other cassava farmers in the project’s areas.
Cassava production is applied by more than 75% of total families in project’s target villages. But the same land is used from year to year for planting the cassava without crop rotation or intercropping practice, this resulted in depletion of soil fertility and yield. The CSA project introduces climate resilient soil fertility practices (specifically, improved soil water retention capacity) to the cassava farmers.
As a climate smart agriculture advisor, Mr. Yim Soksophors works closely with relevant government officials from Provincial Department of Agriculture of Tboung Khmum province, and local NGO (Vigilance staff) to organise series of training for cassava farmers in Tboung Khmum province. One round of the training organised in March, and this is the second round of the training sessions organised by the project. For the second round organised from 22 to 24 April 2015, 6 training sessions were organised with the participation of 117 farmers (79 women).
The training’s topic mainly focused on intercropping, detail training contents shown below:
Introduction to the participants about SNV and the CSA project
Review previous training from March 2015 (soil fertility improvement)
New training topic for this round is “Intercropping practices in cassava production”
Other soil fertility improvement practices included (such as use of natural fertiliser, compost, cover crop/green manure, etc.)
Pest insect control / treatment of cassava cutting stems before planting
SNV, PDA and Vigilance staffs co-facilitated the trainings. They encouraged farmers to use natural fertiliser rather than using chemical fertiliser and pesticide for soil improvement and pest control. As a result, the farmers are aware of intercropping practices, some farmers interested to apply intercropping in a plot of land to experiment this practice in this season. Other farmers have learned how to select and prepare healthy cassava cutting stems, treatment of the cassava cutting stems before planting, etc. The project expected that the farmers will apply these practices in this new planting season.
Through organising these trainings, the project has engaged different partners and stakeholders, such as the Provincial Department of Agriculture of Tboung Khmum province, Vigilance (local organisation) and local authorities (village chief, commune chief). Those stakeholders have improved their knowledge of CSA approach, etc. More importantly, this engagement will provide a bigger room for cooperation among those stakeholders.
Rains came during the training, so it was a challenge to invite farmers to attend the training while majority of them were buy with the preparation of the cassava cutting stems and soil plowing for the cassava planting in this new season. For next actions, we will carry out the following activities:
Organise another round of training and provide individual follow-up visit and advice to ensure that the farmers will demonstrate what they have learned from the project to other farmers in their villages.
The project may consider to provide some legume seeds for farmers to apply intercropping practices in cassava production.
Thank Vigilance organisation for organising the trainings. Thank Mr. You Tainghy and Mr. Chansophal PDA officials for providing technical knowledge on intercropping practices to the farmers, and finally thank farmers for active participation in the training.