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Farming project gets extension, $66M

Poor farmers in Kampong Thom’s Sro Yov commune, Santuk district, study technical methods of rice cultivation on tablet PCs as part of the ADB-funded Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholders Development program in 2014.
Poor farmers in Kampong Thom’s Sro Yov commune, Santuk district, study technical methods of rice cultivation on tablet PCs as part of the ADB-funded Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholders Development program in 2014. Moeun Nhean

Farming project gets extension, $66M

The government and international funders have committed a further $66 million to a project to increase small farmers’ productivity, after yesterday claiming success in the program’s initial seven-year period.

The renewed program, Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholders Development (TSSD), will join a slew of agricultural improvement projects that have now been scheduled over the next several years.

TSSD was started in 2010 with funds from the government, Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Finland, totalling $50.85 million, said Sam Chhom Sangha, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Targeting 1,200 smallholder farmer groups in 28 districts in five target provinces – Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum – the project had improved the livelihoods of about 60,000 families, Chhom Sangha said.

“Before, I didn’t know anything about [good agricultural practices] or food safety – I only farmed based on traditional ways. Since I joined the project, I learned farming techniques to meet quality standards,” said Prak Thorn, a melon farmer in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srey district, who joined the project in 2014.

“My customers are confident now and trust only my melons,” he said.

The ministry’s Chhom Sangha said the project’s initial phase would end in February, but thanks to its perceived success, the program would receive an additional $66 million from the government, ADB and IFAD to continue for five more years.

The second stage would expand to two more provinces, Prey Veng and Battambang, and focus more on irrigation, he said.

Meng Sakphouseth, IFAD’s country program officer, said there were many projects joining the sector with similar goals of developing the local horticulture industry.

“The challenges that we address will be production chain and market needs,” Sakphouseth said.

In May, the government and IFAD launched a six-year, $36 million joint project to develop agricultural value chains and help smallholder farmers access markets.

In August, New Zealand offered to provide a $6.5 million grant for a five-year commercial horticulture project aimed at helping small organic fruit and vegetable farmers find local buyers for their products, and in September, a five-year, $17 million initiative was announced by USAID to develop commercial horticulture in rural Cambodia.

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