NGO Heifer International Cambodia (HIC) on June 21 handed over a total of 21 transport vehicles and nearly $500,000 worth of infrastructure to 21 agriculture cooperatives, as part of its “poultry project of national pride in Cambodia” for 2021-2026.
The goal of the project is to scale up development of the Cambodian backyard chicken sector by empowering cooperatives and spurring cooperative institutional capacity development, and investing in processing and standard chick hatchery enterprises, as well as farmers eager to start up small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The project also aims to increase access to impact capital for smallholder farmers to scale up agribusinesses, boost production and supplies of high-quality backyard chicken meat on the market, and improve distribution efficiency.
Speaking at June 21’s handover ceremony, HIC country director Nhem Sareth listed the items as three cold chain trucks, four non-cold chain trucks, 14 cold chain motorcycles, as well as five community market and collection centres, three offices for agricultural cooperatives and two cold-storage warehouses.
He said: “The project will directly benefit 53,300 households in 11 provinces, increasing family incomes and significantly contributing to increased supplies of Khmer backyard chicken eggs, chicks, chicken fattening operations, and domestic chicken processing and packaging, as well as playing a part in reducing chicken imports from neighbouring countries.”
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said the project is “appropriate” and would be “highly successful” due to high demand for farm chicken products on the market and a relatively high level of skills and techniques among farmers.
He said the assistance is a “clear demonstration” of effective cooperation between the state, development partners, the private sector and agricultural cooperatives, and is in line with the government’s Agriculture Development Policy and Plan 2019-2025.
“I hope that the organisation will continue to examine the possibility of providing more support to the farming community to meet practical needs, such as the means to transport vegetables, fruits, fish and meat to markets, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and branches as well as to other retailers, in a way that maintains fresh quality, saves time, reduces product volume losses caused by transportation and refrigeration for product storage,” Sakhon said.
According to Sareth, the investment carries a $493,302 price tag, of which $121,554 is co-financed by the agricultural cooperatives.
“It is impossible for us to continue doing or supporting what was done in the past, as it can’t help us address the challenges and issues of agricultural productions, processing and packaging in the difficult period of Covid-19.
“In this regard, the collective efforts and commitments of governmental ministries and institutions, agricultural cooperatives, the private sector, civil society and development partners will ensure assistance for farmers’ agricultural activities, and that their agricultural products are effectively and efficiently delivered to market,” he said.
Soung Nak, chairwoman of Meanchey Cooperative in Prey Veng province, said HIC’s contribution will make it easier for the cooperative’s members to move products to market and other districts, as well as Phnom Penh. She stressed the importance of maintaining the quality of products during the transport process, especially during the Covid era.
“The 21-member cooperative is committed to expand poultry raising and the production of safe vegetables, as well as other agricultural products. At the same time, we will also process and pack things properly to maintain the high quality that the market demands,” she said.
HIC is currently helping 34,758 households, 1,282 self-help groups (SHGs) with 24,765 female members, and 75 agricultural cooperatives operating in 28 districts of 11 provinces.
As of April, the agricultural cooperatives had achieved $3.4 million in savings, of which $1.3 million is shared capital used to reinvest in backyard chicken and safe vegetable production.