The Switzerland-backed non-governmental organisation, HEKS/EPER, announced to launch a five-year, $7.8million development project for cashew nuts in Cambodia, with a goal to improve the livelihood of rural families.
The project, which will be implemented between this year and 2022, was announced in a workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh and is expected to boost food security, income and land management for poor communities.
Chairman of HEKS to The Asia-Europe chairman for HEKS/EPER, Marc Zoss, said the project will help improve the living standard of the poor who are involved in the project.
“We expect this project [cashew nuts chain and land management] to help directly improve the livelihoods of rural people and that of at least 100,000 people to 250,000 others indirectly,” he said.
According to the HEKS/EPER, the project will be implemented in seven targeted provinces – Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng.
The project focuses on strengthening the capacity and techniques of cashew nut cultivation and land management and improving the market linkage to increase the income and boost the economy in rural communities.
HEKS/EPER, established by Swiss International NGO in 1946, receives relief support from Swiss Protestant Churches.
The organisation is currently working in 33 countries. During its 40 years of operations in Cambodia, it has helped improve the livelihoods of more than 40,000 poor households through food support.
Ministry of Agriculture secretary of state, Hean Vanhan, said at the workshop that cashew nuts are among the 10 major strategic crops in the Kingdom. “Currently, our farmers are shifting from families owned businesses to agro-business,” he said.
Vanhan said that last year and this year, the cashew cultivation area in 22 provinces totalled 149,660ha, almost 60 per cent of which is harvested land with a yield of 116,343 tonnes.
The country director for the Swiss Development Agency, Carin Salerno, said the project can only be successfull if all stakeholders were involved, especially local communities and government institutions.
“This project will strengthen knowledge about cashew cultivation techniques and ensure market price stability for the community,” she said, adding that the project would also help to prevent indigenous communities from becoming victims of land grabs.