By: Him Neun,

Association for Local Development and Agriculture (ALDA) is an initiative started by CEDAC in 2008 in Takeo, Kompong Speu and Kompot provinces. The association was formed by clustering interested former graduates of CEDAC’s Young Community Leader[1] (YCL) and farmer promoter programs. ALDA is a sub-program of CEDAC Field Program Unit. The main purpose of this program to ensure that there is are sufficient competent community human resources committed to train, guide, advice and provide services to other farmers, NGOs and institutions in their community and neighboring communities. It is considered of first rank importance to build the capacity and promote cooperation among young community farmers and other farmers to enhance their careers and develop  specializations.

On February 25, 2009, CEDAC facilitated the organization of  interested young farmer community leaders in Takeo and Kompong Speu provinces into ALDA with title Rural Youth Association for Development (RYAD). The association was established with the objectives of:

–          Improving youth cooperation and mutual help

–          Increasing job and career opportunities

–          Building up the capacity of each other

–          Developing rural youth to be an organization that plays an important role in providing training and facilitating services in the fields of Agriculture, Health, Education and Environment.

Initially, the association consisted of 11 members (6 women) who had completed the Young Community Leader course (YCL) with CEDAC. Currently, the association has 19 memberships (6 women) with 398 USD as supporting fee. In general, RYAD has been able to generate a gross income of approximately 800 USD per month to support its operations. Members bring in a monthly salary from their services such as promoting service fee from PRS-EU project, hosting NGOs exchange visit, monthly salary (CFA of CEDAC project), data collection, training service fee from participants and selling farmer magazines. In addition, to strengthen the sustainability of the association all members agreed to set aside 3% of the association’s monthly gross income as a RYAD supporting fee and regular collective saving. Up to date RYAD has run its operation full one year with driving some achievement as following:

1- Community Assistance:

(RYAD) has been playing an important role by providing support, advice  and guidance to local   communities to improve their mutual help. They have facilitated farmers to set up village-based associations, saving groups, and collective business groups like community rice mill, animal feed processing, and local seed producer, applying community participatory development approaches. RYAD also assisted the community to set up saving-for-self-reliance groups at the village level and facilitates the administration of these groups by helping with the processes of saving, lending, bookkeeping and fund management of the money paid back. Besides providing social and business ideas to farmers, RYAD association has assisted communities to apply innovative agricultural practices such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI), ecological chicken-raising, fish-raising, home gardening, integrated farming, saving compost and improving fertilizer management, and reducing chemical pesticide and fertilizer use.

2- Enhancing Capacity of Members:

RYAD not only seeks to support communities but also to strengthen the skills and capacity of its members.  Their knowledge related to agricultural practices was improved through attendance in training and capacity building sessions organized by CEDAC, learning from expert farmers and producing best practice documentation. Family income of RYAD members was increased through practicing the agriculture techniques themselves at home. Moreover, RYAD provided more opportunities to members through additional training activities and hosting exchange visits. Each member can earn a salary on average of 70USD per month by providing the training service, hosting NGOs exchange visit, data collection and selling farmer magazine.

Though the association is still young, it has made rapid strides and members are contributing to communities for positive changes. Some members have identified their specialization and have been improving their own self development.

[1] YCL is the one approach of CEDAC rural development program  to improve quality of knowledge and life of young farmer