Waikor Hotel, Svay Rieng, Cambodia
SNV Cambodia has been undertaking Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) project from since the beginning of 2014 as a part of the regional CSA programme covering Nepal, Bhutan, Laos PDR and Cambodia. The project works with smallholder farmers in Svay Rieng and Tboung Khmum provinces targeting vegetable and Cassava value chains respectively. As part of knowledge and experience sharing, a workshop to mark the end of the first year of the project was conducted in Svay Rieng to share experiences and lessons learnt so far while getting feedback to improve planning of the project the following year.
The workshop was graced by the presence of government’s agencies Provincial Department of Agriculture, Commune councils, Vegetable Input suppliers in Nature gardens, ACAO and Kbal Koh vegetable seed station, IaW as well Micro-finance institutions/Banks. Also present was CFED with experience in gender and development. A total of 31 participants (6 women) were presented (see annex I for participant list).
The opening session of the workshop was chaired by Mr. Sok Sotheavuth, Deputy Provincial Department of Agriculture (Svay Rieng province), Mr. Kitinya Kirina (SNV advisor) and Mr. Huy Dara, manager of Ideas at Work. In the opening speech, the DPDA put into focus the challenges of climate change in the provinces within the agricultural sector especially the situation of vegetable growing in the province. He reiterated and acknowledged the efforts by SNV and other like INGOs in helping smallholder farmers reduce climate risks in their production systems. He also mentioned the need to have more workshops to promote knowledge sharing and networking. Mr. Kirina asked the audience to take advantage of the workshop make inquiries considering the broad range of participants from input suppliers to technical experts and vegetable wholesalers. He also appreciated the contribution of tarpaulin pounds in water harvesting for vegetable production among smallholder farmers.
The workshop saw various presentations around vegetable production and two parallel sessions (see annex ii). Mr. Kitinya Kirina gave a general background on SNV Climate smart agriculture programme touching on various solutions being implemented by different countries within the projects and goals of the SNV CSA programme. This was followed by a presentation by Mr. Yim Soksophors who presented on; Findings/Key output of the CSA project in Cambodia mainly focused on water storage and supply systems (wind pump, tarpaulin lining ponds and Rovai pump, climate change awareness campaigns, etc.). After the two presentations, the participants went on parallel sessions where two topics were tackled a) Vegetable production techniques and b) Contextual challenges in the vegetable value chain. Participants were asked to go around and have a look at the findings from each group. Representatives from each group were asked to give the short summary of their discussions, and then Mr. Seak Soly and Mr. Yim Soksophors provided synthesis results of the discussion on vegetable production and vegetable value chain in plenary. In the afternoon sessions, Mr. Saw Sanpirom from Natural gardens presented on contract farming. Mr. Bean Ratha and Ms. Soeur Somalay from ACAO presented on Input supply followed by a presentation by Mr. Soun Sinat of CFED who tackled Gender and Youth in vegetable value chain topic. The floor was then opened for a question and answer sessions at the ends of the presentations. A synopsis of the key outcomes of the presentations and discussions is included.
- Tarpaulin ponds and Rovai pumps have helped in reducing smallholder vulnerability to climate change especially during dry seasons. However from farmer’s story, this was not enough as most farmers could not do the targeted 4 cycles of production. The dry season peaks in March and April. Also during September the peak raining season, flooding of farms leaves some farmers with no option but to wait until the rains subside. Additionally some of the water are used for domestic use and could also contribute to a lack of achievement of year-round production.
- Efforts are still needed on a technical aspect of vegetable production as farmers still experience challenges more with pest and disease management.
- Though most farmers are aware of what and where inputs to buy, however, some agricultural inputs are not good quality, they are still facing challenges in accessing finances to acquire the input materials.
- It was clear there was a challenge in production during peak dry season but also lies potential opportunity as vegetable wholesalers mentioned that that is the period they have the lowest supply.
- Contract farming system offers a stable option both for producers and vegetable wholesalers. The system could create more benefit if designed and packaged with technical services like training on production techniques.
- The size of vegetable farms and the technologies promoted by SNV provides a chance to inculcate gender in the agriculture system and projects. Youths are still missing and could play a key role in the labour deficit agriculture production.
- Participants also noted the need to have such like workshops to be more often as they get to create networks within the vegetable value chain sector and share experiences. Specifically, Mr. Huy Dara, from Ideas at Work mentioned that there should be contract farming signed between vegetable producer groups and vegetable dealers (such as the natural garden) during the workshop or one week after the workshop.
- Collaboration efforts between the government agencies and private sectors focusing on farmers were also highlighted as one of the keys to improving farmer’s resilience to climate change. Farmers will be able to access information and advisory services for informed decision-making at farm level reducing climate risks.
The workshop session was closed out by a brief wrap up from Mr. Seak Soly who highlighted the success of the workshop based on participants response and generally elicited interest and networks created during the workshop. He also summarized what farmers going forward would be interested in and what role the government agencies should play. He noted that SNV has put the good effort and focus on smallholder farming resiliency and the technologies are ripe for up and out scaling. The process, he warned would need inputs from PDA, commune councils and other NGOs working in the Vegetable value chain. Mr. Kitinya Kirina, appreciated the sharing of the participants and officially closed the workshop.