Review and Validate Agricultural Extension Materials

Under the ASPIRE program, I am working as a consultant to review and validate agricultural extension materials. The program is setting up extension hub / web portal where extension materials are posted for small farmers, extension workers, development practitioners, students, researchers, policy makers, investor, etc.

Currently, we have many extension materials produced by different development projects, agencies but there is no quality assurance under MAFF to make sure that those extension materials are designed in a good format especially for small farmers to understand easily, and more importantly the content is technically correct or not.

Contributing to the 2015 National Agricultural Extension Policy, the ASPIRE program is establishing Agricultural Extension Advisory Committee (AEAC) to be responsible for reviewing the extension materials or production of new materials if needed, but make sure that they are technical correct and farmer friendly.

I will firstly collect and review extension materials produced by MAFF and materials produced by other agencies including NGOs, private sectors, etc.


Meeting with ICCO and ACTIS team to discuss market need assessment

ICCO in partnership with LWD is implementing a project “Linking GAP vegetables to markets” in Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambang provinces. Site selection and market need assessment is expected to be completed by end of September 2016. The market need assessment aimed to identify and select the targeted villages as well as to assess the current situation of vegetable production and market in the targeted areas. The results of the need assessment will be used by the project implementation team to design appropriate approach and intervention to boost GAP vegetable production and market linkage.

A meeting with 10 assessment team conducted at ACTIS office. Mr. Lang Chanthea presented the process of setting up the GAP vegetable producer groups and market linkage, followed by my presentation on the market need assessment. Methodologies including market observation, Focus Group Discussion, Household Interview, individual interview with wholesalers and retailers were explained in the meeting.

By the end of the meeting, each team member understand the process and  be able to use the questionnaires for market assessment. Clear work plan was prepared with responsible persons and team assigned for each targeted province. Simple data entry form is already developed for the team members. It is expected that 7 market need assessment reports will be produced (in Khmer) and distributed to agricultural cooperatives in the targeted areas by end of October 2016.

Business plan development for target communities in 5 selected CPAs

Under the MOE funded assignment, five business plans developed with  the participation from the target groups of the Adaptation Project. Most of the target groups interested in collective selling of chicken and vegetables because of good market demand both at their community and national levels. The target groups agreed on the business model that they need to deposit some start up capital (shareholding) for operating their business. This is a good start for them to join the collective business which is different from private business that they have done before.

Group discussion among the participants in Chom Thlork CPA, Kampong Thom province

Management committee of the business groups established. The participants defined clear roles and responsibilities of each management committee member. The next step is to support these business groups to implement their business plans. Support the community members to improve vegetable production and chicken raising would be the next step, followed by the support on market linkage.

The Ministry of Environment (MOE) has been implementing a project, called “Enhancing Climate Resilience of Rural Communities Living in Protected Areas of Cambodia” in five community protected areas (CPAs) in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, and Mondulkiri provinces. The project objective is to enhance the climate change resilience of
communities living in the CPA intervention sites, as well as downstream communities, to the climate change induced hazard of erratic rainfall.

Safety vegetables for consumption

There are many vegetable growers in Saang district, Kandal province compared to other provinces in Cambodia. Different from other provinces, the farmers in this areas produce and sell vegetables to make income for their families. However, they use a lot of chemicals (e.g. pesticide and fertilizer), which is not good for health of both producers and consumers.

Farmer watering vegetable seed in Saang district, Kandal province

Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) introduced to vegetable growers in Svay Protel and Saang Phnom communes by a project implemented by ACTIS and World Vision International Cambodia. Some farmers seems interested in the GAP while they can reduce the expense on agricultural inputs e.g. fertilizer, pesticide, but some farmers think that GAP would not enable the produce more vegetables for markets. There are at least 13 GAP principles that the farmers need to follow, and appropriate application of the chemical fertilizer and pesticide is one of the main principles. Some farmers raised that they are difficult to reduce or stop using the pesticide because there are many pest insects “You would not harvest any vegetables if you don’t use pesticide”, farmers said.

The project jointly implemented by ACTIS and WVI Cambodia trained the vegetable farmers on GAP, preparation of production plan, establishment of GAP vegetable producer groups and facilitated market linkage. Supplying contracts between the producer groups and REMIC (vegetable buyer company) were prepared to provide stable price and regular purchasing of the vegetables from the farmers. This is good for farmers when they have the contracts. Price fluctuation and regular market demand are the main challenges facing the vegetable growers at the present.

Sim Sokneun, vegetable grower in O Romchek village, Svay Protel commune – He experienced the impact of the chemical pesticide on his health.

Sim Sokneun is a vegetable grower in O Romchek village, Peamsala commune raised that he is interested in the GAP vegetable growing as it reduces / stops using the chemical pesticide. He feels sick when using pesticide, and he would not able to continue growing vegetables if he needs more pesticide in the future. In addition, he said that he  can get higher price for the GAP vegetables – so it is good for his own health and also can get more incomes. However, connection / communication between the vegetable producer groups and REMIC needs to be further improved, make sure that all vegetables produced by the farmer groups would be purchased by REMIC for suppying to markets in Phnom Penh or somewhere else. He is now interested to grow Europe Lettuce for selling because it has good market demand and high price.

Europe lettuce planted for selling

Dul Vanny is male vegetable grower in the same village said that he will grow more GAP vegetables if there are more market demand of this product. Currently, the quantity of GAP vegetables purchased by REMIC is still small. He added that some farmers believe in GAP vegetable growing, meaning that it helps to reduce the chemicals, higher price and can be sold to REMIC on the regular basis, but some other farmers are still reluctant to apply GAP vegetable growing – they think that GAP vegetable growing would produce less yield, then the income would be also less if the yield is less. Normally, the farmers use a lot of chemical fertilizer and pesticide in their conventional vegetable growing, therefore they are wondering the yield if they reduce or stop using the chemical fertilizer and pesticide. Vanny added that the farmers can sell vegetables regular to market when the project facilitated supplying contract with the buyers.

Farmer watering vegetable seed in Saang district, Kandal province

Tieng Rong a cooperating farmer who live in Peamsala village, Saang Phnom commune mentioned that he could sell his vegetable with a higher price if he followed the GAP vegetable growing principles. Currently, some members of the GAP vegetable producer groups still produce less amount of vegetables for selling, sometimes it is difficult for buyer while the quantity is not enough. He himself grow wax gourd in the plastic bag, which considered as new planting technique adaptable to poor soil fertility, water logging, shortage of water, etc. Planting this way enables him to take care of the vegetable easily.

Wax gourd garden of Mr. Tieng Rong – more adaptable to climate change and variation (e.g. poor soil fertility, shortage of water, water logging, etc.


Training on community enterprise and business plan development

In June and May 2016, I involved in the training on community enterprise and business plan development for five partners of ActionAid, such as CHADA and MPC in Srae Ambil District, Koh Kong Province,  SAMAKY and CWDCC in Kampot Province, and RFCD in Krokor district, Pursat Province.  In total, ten training sessions were organized for the five NGOs mentioned above. There were about 20 participants in each training sessions, including fisherfolks, farmers, members and management committee members of agricultural cooperatives established and supported by the ActionAid’s partner NGOs.


The objective of the training was to train selected farmers on marketing and business skills. The training focused on how to market their agriculture and fisheries products, how to manage rural enterprise and agri-business plan development.


In the first day, the training focused on general concept related to community enterprise, followed by the training and preparation of business plan in the second and third day of the training. Below are the main training topics of the training:

  1. General concept of the agricultural cooperative (definition, principle and core value of the agricultural cooperative)
  2. Differences between charity and development – differences between the rich and the poor
  3. Barriers to become a businessman
  4. Definition of business
  5. Nine steps to start business
  6. Market competitor identification
  7. Advantages of business plan
  8. Presenting video clips of successful community enterprises
  9. product analysis
  10. three year plan
  11. Expense, income
  12. cashflow management
  13. SWOT analysis
  14. Risk analysis
  15. Market models
  16. Production cost analysis
  17. Management structures / Roles and Responsibilities
  18. etc.

Improving vegetable production and marketing of healthy vegetables

Phnom Penh: I was part of the team to formulate a project, called “Improving Vegetable Production and Marketing of Healthy Vegetables submitted the European Union (EU). The proposed project is designed for 4 years covering different aspects including 1) Improved governance in the vegetable value chain, 2) Increased farm productivity among vegetable smallholder farms, 3) Increased access to better markets for small farmers and MSM agribusinesses in the vegetable value chain, 4) Increased access to responsible and inclusive financing and investments in the vegetable value chain. The project objective is to develop an inclusive, sustainable and climate-smart vegetable lettuce & cabbages (leafy vegetables), tomato, long bean, and cucumber vegetable value chains in Cambodia.


As you know, most of the vegetables imported from neighboring countries (e.g. Vietnam, Thailand). Concern of the food safety is high among the consumers now, meaning that they want to eat healthy vegetables which not use a lot of chemical pesticide, fertilizer, etc. The project will train vegetable growers to apply GAP Standard in vegetable growing, make sure the vegetables are safe for the consumers. We also think about the introduction on climate smart agriculture (CSA) while climate change and variation is already affecting the vegetable farmers.

If the project is funded, the project will work closely with existing farmers’ groups, farmer organisations, agricultural cooperatives to improve their vegetable products, access to saving and credit, etc. Potential key farmers from the existing farmers’ groups would be selected and trained to play active role in dissemination of good agriculture practice and vegetable value chain. The key farmers can also play role to link farmers to market, also facilitate to link farmers to input suppliers. In terms of the sustainability, the key farmers would be able to get some fee/commission when they facilitate these kinds of work on the daily basis.

The project proposal was developed with other NGO partners, such as CEDAC, ACTIS, PDAO, RUA, NELIDA, and ICCO. ICCO is the lead applicant of this proposal while the rest are the consortium partners. The proposal was already submitted, and we hope to get good news from the donor.


Planning for improving household food production and income from vegetables

4Ruot Dy is, 28 years old, married with 2 children. She is a woman member of the pilot farmer field school who lives in Anlong Kranh village, Popok commune, Stoung district, Kampong Thom province. Ruot Dy and her husband (31 years old) rely on agriculture to support the family’s livelihood and income. There are only 2 family members (Ruot Dy and her husband) who are the main labour force in the family while the two children are still young (5 years old and 2 years old).

Rice cultivation is conducted to produce staple food for the family consumption. However, the yield was very low, only 0.54 t/ha, which is much below the national average. The main income source for the family is from cassava and cashew nuts, about 5 to 6 million riels per year (approximately 1,250 to 1,500 USD/year).

Vegetable production and chicken rearing were conducted to produce supplement food for the family consumption, so the family did not generate any income from vegetables and chickens. However, the expense of buying external food is reducing if the family can produce food for own consumption.  Actually, the purpose of chicken rearing is not only to produce food, but also to make income for the family, but high mortality rate of the chicken limited this expectation.


Ruot Dy was selected to become a member of the pilot FFS by the Life and Nature project extension officer because she is fit to the selection criteria, for example, she was applying the vegetable growing, vulnerable to climate change variation, and young farmer family, etc. She attended 7 out of 10 training sessions of the pilot FFS, and she has learned different topics on:

  • Seed selection / climate tolerant variation
  • Soil preparation
  • Soil fertility improvement (e.g. compost making)
  • Integrated pest management (IPM), botanical pesticide
  • Water management (e.g. water harvesting, water use efficiency…)
  • Harvesting and post-harvest management

Due to the prolonged drought in this year, Ruot Dy could not grow vegetables for this period of time. She is planning to apply what she learned from the pilot FFS in the next planting season when the rainwater is available. After attending the pilot FFS, she is encouraged to upgrade herself from subsistence farmer to commercial farmers. Now, she has a specific plan to expand the vegetable production, first start the vegetable growing inside the homestead area, then manage to do vegetable growing in a bigger land, which is located about 1 km from her homestead. She mentioned that the new arable land is accessible to a water source that is why she is interested in moving the vegetable growing to that area. Currently, there is one family growing vegetables in that area using underground water.

Ruot Dy mentioned that market demand for vegetables is not the problem in her community. The number of producers is less while many villagers could not produce for their own consumption. Therefore, the vegetables can be easily sold to neighbouring families, communal market, district market, etc. At present, there is a vegetable seller from Prolay commune, which is about 15 km away from her community come and sell vegetables to the villagers. Ruot Dy and her husband have strong intention and commitment and they will work together to improving vegetable production for market supply.


Improved resilient livelihood through diversified agriculture productions and income sources

20160421_110126Mr. Phoun Phea is, 36 years old, a member of the pilot farmer field school of the FAO’s Life and Nature project. Phoun Phea lives in Anlong Kranh village, Popok commune, Stoung district, Kampong Thom province with 8 family members. Both husband and wife clearly share their roles in making food and incomes for the family. Phoun Phea is mostly involved in the daily agricultural activities while his wife does a small business in front of a primary school.  The family makes income from both on-farm and off-farm activities, however, the agriculture is still the main source of family’s food and income sources.


As mentioned above, the vegetable growing is only possible in the rainy season when the rainwater is available, and he could produce vegetables for own consumption from June to August, which is about 3 months per year. Therefore, the family still lacked vegetable for family consumption throughout the year and has not yet produced surplus vegetables for selling.

It is to note that the FAO’s Life and Nature project partnered with Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) to implement pilot FFS on climate smart vegetable growing from February to May 2016. Two government counterparts from PDA (at the provincial level) and DOA (at district level) performed as trainer and trainer assistant with logistical support and arrangement from the Life and Nature project extension officer.

Phuon Phea cooperated with the FAO’s Life and Nature project in February 2016 by regularly attending the pilot farmer field school that was implemented from February to May 2016. At the same time, he is also a cooperating farmer of the ADB Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholder Development project. He is a management committee member of the revolving fund group established and supported by the ADB project. Phuon Phea is an active person and always interests to learn new skills and knowledge for improving the livelihood of his family. The main reason he decided to join the pilot FFS because he expected to learn new technical knowledge about climate smart vegetable growing as he wants to make income from vegetables. When women producer group to be established by the Life and Nature project, he is also interested in becoming a member of the producer group.

Through attending ten training sessions of the pilot FFS, he has improved a lot of technical understanding on the following key topics:

  • Basic concept of climate change
  • Soil preparation (seedbed, vegetable rows) for growing vegetables in the dry and wet seasons,
  • Soil fertility improvement (solid compost, liquid compost)
  • How to measure soil pH
  • How to make trellis
  • Selection to climate tolerant varieties
  • Water use efficiency techniques (e.g. using of organic matter to increase soil-water holding capacity, mulching…)
  • Integrated pest management, botanical pesticide

Phuon Phea has practised what he learned from the pilot FFS. He planted different vegetables such as yard long bean, wax gourd, water convolvulus in his garden, 20 m x 30 m located in the homestead area. As a result, he produced more quantity of vegetables for the family consumption, and the duration of having enough vegetables for family consumption has increased from 3 months per year to 4 months per year after attending the pilot FFS. Furthermore, he could also make an income of 30,000 riels from vegetables. Through the interview, he raised that he had never received any income from vegetables previously, but he could make an income from the water convolvulus after attending the FFS.


To improve vegetable production, Phoun Phea has several plans as follows:

  • Dig pond for collecting rainwater (5 x 10 m, 3 m depth)
  • Improve roof water harvesting for domestic use and vegetable growing
  • Rehabilitate opened well, make it deeper in order to get more water
  • Improved understanding of water uses efficiency practices
  • Learn how to use chemical fertiliser with the appropriate way

Participation of local authorities in vegetable farmer field school

20160419_144001Mr Theng Mao is, 61 years old, a cooperating farmer of the Life and Nature project. There are seven members in his family.He was a primary school principal in Lvea Krang commune, currently he is a member of a district council who is responsible for developing district development plan.

Agriculture is the main sources of his family’s food and income. He conducts different farming actitivities such as rice cultivation, cassava planting, chicken rearing, pig raising. Besides all of these farming activities, he also has a small rice mill to provide milling services for local people. Below table summarises major occupation and incomes:


There were 12 farmers attended the pilot Farmer Field School in Kok Chan village, Lvea Krang commune, Mr. Theng Mao is one among the twelve farmers who regularly attended pilot farmer field school on vegetable growing from February to May 2016.  Through the participation in the pilot FFS, Mao has learned different topics related to the basic concept of climate change, planting techniques, compost making, botanical pesticide, the impact of the chemical pesticide on human health, environment and economic, and other climate-resilient cropping practices. He impressed that he could learn new knowledge and improved his understanding after attending the pilot FFS.

Vegetable growing is normally conducted in the rainy season when there is rainwater. Theng Mao grows vegetables in his backyard garden, near his homestead. The size of that vegetable garden is 50 square metres (5 m x 10 m). Those vegetables are eggplant, chilli, watermelon, cucumber, and pumpkin. The vegetable he produced is good for his family because he doesn’t need to spend money to buy vegetables from others, at the same time produce healthy vegetables for his family consumption.

The Life and Nature project will facilitate to set up the women producer group and support women to improve their market linkage. Even Theng Mao is not a woman, but he is also interested in joining the women producer group. He expected to grow vegetables for selling to markets, both neighbouring families and local markets. So, both men and women can join the women producer group, but women will dominate the group. Theng Mao has another land about 1 – 1.5 ha, located about 1 km from his home, where he is going to to grow vegetables for market supply. This bigger land would enable them to produce more vegetables compare to a small slot near the homestead.

Water source is still a challenge for growing vegetables. He planned to dig a well in order to get underground water for irrigation. The cost would be around 2 million riels. During the interview, he realised that using underground water is not really while many other farmers do the same, water table would be decreased. However, this is the only solution he has for now.

Woman headed household struggles to make food and income for the family

20160426_105210Ms. Meak Savok is, 50 years old, a woman FFS member in Kuleng Chheung village, Kulen Chheung commune, Kulen district of Preah Vihear province. She has 2 children under her burden while her husband (45 years old) is the disabled person. So, she plays the role as the head of the family who carries out the whole family’s tasks.

Despite her husband is not the main labour force in her family, agriculture is still the main source of food and income. She is responsible for almost all of the farming activities with little support from her husband such as rice cultivation, chicken rearing, vegetable growing, wine distillation, etc. However, her husband also goes out to catch natural fishes sometimes in the rainy season. Major farming activities and incomes are described in the below table:


From February to May 2016, the project partnered with Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA-Preah Vihear) to run the pilot FFS. PDA staff at the provincial level acted as the FFS trainer, one counterpart from District Office of Agriculture (DOA) performed as the trainer assistance with the logistic arrangement from the project extension officer, FFS facilitator.

Savok is one among the twelve farmers who attended the pilot farmer field school (FFS). She impressed that the FFS training methodology is easy for her to understand new knowledge and technical practices. Learning by doing approach is used, normally FFS trainer conducted real practices or demonstration during the training, for example, the training on how to make botanical pesticide, visiting vegetable garden to discover pest insects, etc. She said that “these kinds of training methods are easy for the farmers to catch the understanding”.  Many training topics discussed and trained during the FFS training sessions such as basic concept of climate change, crop identification and selection, site selection, soil preparation, water storage and supply systems / water use efficiency, mulching, planting methods, weeding, integrated pest management (IPM) as well as harvesting and post-harvest management.

Due to the extreme drought in this year, she could only plant vegetables on a small plot of land. Her pond still has some water until May that can be used for growing the veggies. As she is the only one who work most on the farm, she currently uses a small water pump to pump water from the pond to irrigate vegetables in the garden. She spends only 2,500 riels to charge a battery of the water pump, then the battery can be used for pumping water for one week.  Increasing vegetable production for market supply is her intention, therefore, she is planning to enhance vegetable production and market as follows:

  • Attend another cycle of FFS on vegetable growing and to learn more detail about Integrated Pest Management (IPM),
  • Participate in the women producer group to cultivate vegetables for market supply. The purpose is to get stable and reasonable price for vegetables,
  • Set up the water supply system / drip irrigation system in the vegetable garden. This would help saving labour and time in carrying and watering the crops.