Women play important roles in all areas of the agricultural sector. From farming, through transport, wholesale, retail to the consumer; women are present throughout the marketing chain.
In order to better understand the issues that female Cambodian traders of agricultural produce face, AMI carried out interviews in four markets.
These are some of the common issues that the interviewees were concerned about:
Female traders tend to have heavy workloads, as they must take care of their families as well as run a business. Unlike male traders who that are often physically stronger, female traders often have to hire additional help to assist them in lifting and carrying produce.
Several interviewees reported that their husbands do not help them with their business or household responsibilities. Some traders reported that their husbands were regularly drunk, and sometimes physically abusive.
Some traders reported severe financial problems that are amplified by the exorbitant interest rates (up to 20%) charged by money lenders, to whom traders turn when facing cash flow problems. Such debt is often carried by the women alone, who are either afraid to tell their husbands as doing so may cause conflict, or they receive little or no support even if their husbands do know of the debt.
Female traders can face security risks, as some need to sleep at their market stalls in order to purchase produce from suppliers in the early hours of the morning. This affects widows in particular, as they are at risk from being alone at their stalls, and their families are at risk from being alone at home.
In general, female traders showed a greater knowledge of the agricultural market than their male counterparts. Many showed an interest in receiving training to assist in the gender issues they face, and enthusiasm to work with AMI to improve their business skills.
Every body wants good health, but wondering current food at markets are really good for health or not. Food safety become main agenda in the Mekong sub region countries as well as other parts of the world. Currently, we have Asean GAP standard that provides guidance and requirement for food safety in the Asean countries. Furthermore, it is important for the Mekong sub-region countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao, Thailand, Myanmar) to prepare a strategy on promoting safe and environmentally friendly agro based value chain for future implementation in the region.
02 January 2017: I attended a meeting between ASPIRE team (DAE/GDA) and CASP2 project team at the Department of international Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss potential areas for cooperation.
CASP2 is working on enhanced food security and adaptive capacity of smallholders farmers through application of climate friendly agriculture, including innovative green water technology and management, soil moisture management in farm, etc. CASP2 has success in facilitating farmer marketing, contracting between CEW and producers.
ASPIRE Team also briefed about the program especially raised about extension hub that will be set up by the program. Extension materials will be uploaded on the web portal that allow farmers, extension workers and other stakeholders to access. This is part of the effort to improve quality extension service.
After the discussion, both parties agreed to cooperate with each other on the following points:
Capacity Building/ Training
Trade fair and exhibition of agricultural extension materials
Regular Meeting (every three months)
Farmers’ exchange visit of successful implementation
Share lesson learned, knowledge and experience for example thru the ASPIRE extension hub
Next step discussion
ASPIRE Team will discuss more detail with Mr Nat Chantola for next collaboration.
CASP2 and GDA ASPIRE will share workplan for further study
Review workplan and identify key areas and activities to collaborate and cooperate.
29 December 2016: I attended a meeting between ASPIRE team members who worked under Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE)/General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE-SAIN) team, including Dr. Hok Lyda, CE-SAIN center director and Dr. Borarin Buntong, Deputy Center Director. The ASPIRE Team consisted of Mr. Chin Samouth, Ms. Yim Samnang, Mr. Pol Chanrithy, Mr. Hourt Khieu, and Mr. Yim Sok Sophors. The meeting started from 2:00PM to 4:00 PM at CE-SAIN / Royal University of Agriculture (RUA).
Training & Exchange: CE-SAIN will create technology parks/Conservation Agriculture, so ASPIRE can send model farmers and/or programme staffs to visit the parks or invite experienced farmers to share knowledge and experience with ASPIRE. ASPIRE programme can send farmers, program staff to attend the lecture series / trainings organized by CE-SAIN.
Research and documentation: CE-SAIN will also provide technical and financial support to farmers for conducting innovation experimentation.CE-SAIN will document good practices / success stories and is happy to share with ASPIRE for uploading on web portal. However, they need to go through the quality assurance process of ASPIRE.
CE-SAIN will share the schedule of the lecture series with ASPIRE, this will be very helpful for ASPIRE to prepare plan and budget if some participants from ASPIRE to participate in the trainings.
CE-SAIN can share extension materials / good practices with ASPIRE programme for posting on web portal for further preceding, review and uploading and web portal.
The next meeting will discuss more detail about the specific areas of the cooperation. Each party will review the activity work plan and determine specific areas of cooperation.
ASPIRE works with farmers and especially with poor and vulnerable smallholder farmers, to assist them to develop their farms into profitable and resilient businesses. That means that ASPIRE sees a farm as a business and the purpose of farming is to make a profit by selling produce to the market. Farmers are faced with climate change and other types of risk and so resilience – the ability of the farm business to meet and overcome challenges – is equally as important as making the maximum profit in the short term.
Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) is funded by USAID. The centre play key role in coordinating projects being implementing by ILs (Innovation Labs) and enhance quality of good practices on sustainable agricultural intensification and nutrition (SAIN) through innovations and technological intervention, agricultural research and new innovative model farming system extension. Establish technology parks to showcase high-potential technologies and strategies to sustainably intensify smallholder farming systems.
28 December 2016: Under the ASPIRE program, a national agricultural extension exhibition was organized at General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) in Phnom Penh. The exhibition aimed to collect extension materials from all stakeholders who have been working with extension service delivery to farmers. In total, 246 participants (female 93) participated in the event.
There were more than 20 booths set up to display extension materials from Government Institutions, NGOs, Projects and Private Sectors such as: TSSD, IRRI, FAO, CARE International in Cambodia, CEDAC, SNV, ADB, World Vision, Heifer Cambodia, CARDI, Vimean (Angkor Vita Co.Ltd), Huy Yun Company, Angkor Green, Village Natural Agricultural Products, ASA, Hoang Long Mekong Group Plc. Fertilizer Ex-M Cambodia, the materials they are brought is: banners, posters, CD/DVD videos, booklets, leaflets.
The exhibition was running smoothly and also provided an opportunity for DAE team to enhance the collaboration between Government, Private sector businesses and extension delivery partners, and NGOs in order to ensure the quality of extension service delivery for Cambodian farmers are of better quality and support they to be resilient to climate change.
The collected materials will be reviewed by technical working group and get approval from Agriculture Extension Advisory Committee before uploading on the web portal. According to the national agricultural extension policy, it is important to improve the quality of extension service in Cambodia and quality of the extension material is more important for farmers to get good practices adaptable to climate change and profitable farm business.
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.