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Cambodia is potential for agriculture which remained smallholders live depend much on agriculture to survive the families, however smallholders still depend much on rainfall, therefore farmers always expected to start doing their farming practices in a rainy season while in dry season there are less farmers to do farming because there is no more rain, and those who can continue their farming activities they depend on some remained water from the rainy season harvested by their small household pond, community pond and canals nearby their farms that can cover small scale farmers. Those farmers that cannot get access to such water sources, then they try to use ground water, but the quality is not good it is deeper and deeper from year to year and their soil quality become harder and poorer annually from decade to decade as well.

Dry season is longer than usual while rainy season is being shorter with irregularity that cause difficulties for farmers, especially smallholders to stand with the quick changes of weather conditions. Majority of smallholders still use seeds generations ago with low yield and low quality. Key water sources for example canals, lakes and rivers are being shallowed and disappeared from decade to decade in a worrying manner for farmers and farming communities in the future.

It is the fact that for those who can continue their farming activities they depend on some harvested rain water from the rainy season remained within their small household pond, community pond, canals and rivers nearby their farms that can cover small scale farmers in a short-term period for early variety crops, but not all farmers get opportunity to use the harvested water. Those farmers that cannot get access to such water sources, then they try to dig well and pumping well to get ground water for uses for irrigation (case in Svay Rieng and Battambang). Most farmers now have changed their crops variety from late variety to medium and early variety. Smallholders get interested to diversify incomes by sending their daughters and sons as younger farmers to work for non-agriculture, then in rainy season they come back and help their parents on agriculture for a period of time and they go back to stay in the city and or nearby the city job areas vis-a-visa, then they come back again in the harvest season. For those who work about 25 or 50 km away from home, they can use a worker transportation van and or bus from their work place to their home and vice versa daily. However, yet the transportation systems are not well prepared and or standardized professionally safely for them.

In the meanwhile, that farmers are facing problems on water, capital, knowledge to process/package and market, therefore the above solutions are being used and at the same time, we as the farmers’ organization work to advocate with relevant stakeholders to focus more on water for agriculture and irrigation systems development for farmers and the rural farming communities that can enable farmers to do their farming practices in a year-round to earn better incomes from agriculture in a sustainable manner in the future. CFAP as the umbrella organizations represents smallholders, producers’ associations and agricultural cooperatives as members in Cambodia has encouraged farmers and members strongly to produce seeds for sales to local farmers and providing new agricultural technical skills aimed at increasing yield with quality for smallholders.

Due pressures more and more from climate change, farmers in Cambodia now get interested in agroecological practices and climate smart agriculture (CSA) by using compost fertilizer and growing their crops/vegetable in the net house that can provide higher yield, protect heavy rain, pests, high temperature and threats from animals and other factors and the prices are higher than normal practices in the open field. Moreover, we also helped farmers by providing household ponds for those rural poor farmers, so that they can continued doing farming at least few months in dry season. Soil quality improvement is a problem in Cambodia because almost all farmers never get access to soil testing to see how the quality of their soil, what substance they should add, and what they should subtract et. In this regard, further to agricultural technical training, CFAP in 2023 has provided advisory support through field visits to meet farmers and members’ organizations on agroecological practices, markets solution and challenges faced by members.

Previously, CFAP also provided soil testing services in collaboration with internship students in Cambodia (Svay Rieng university) and Europe (Wageningen university). The results of soil testing had presented to farmers, local authorities and relevant stakeholders at the regional and national workshop for knowledge sharing. Strengthening the added value of a membership-based organization, the farmers’ organization and agricultural cooperative are key to ensure that farmers understand well about the added value of farmers as members and the added value of the organization and cooperative that can help protect farmer members and farming communities from a wide range of threats on their lives and the livelihoods of the farming community as a whole. Provided advisory support/training on marketing planning, business planning and food processing have been initiated since 2015 till present and in the future to ensure FOs are sustainable and strong.

We also provided a study visit and business learning exchange between farmer and farmer, especially youth through partnership supported programs such as GRET and ASSET to enable them to learn of how to apply agroecological practices including cover crops, communication with traders such Preah Vihear Organic rice, processing their produces, collective sales and purchasing for supplying markets, payment and transportation from collection center to markets. Moreover, our farmers also learn how to enter inter partnership and contract agreement for sales and purchases between farmers’ organizations and traders/big buyers and discussion when problems that farmers cannot meet the contract agreement to insure farmers can increase their produces for sales regularly as planned. CFAP cannot do this alone, therefore collaboration with development partner is necessarily needed.

Farmers can reduce labor, production costs, times for bringing their products to market, threats from animals to destroy their crops and high temperature from sun light and heavy rain and so on. Applying agroecological practices and climate smart agriculture – organic produces, therefore farmers, especially smallholders can increase higher yield up too three or four times compared to normal practices and the quality of produces is higher, safer and healthier that can attract consumers to buy and consume. Those who have medium and high standard of living in the society and think of healthy food they really appreciated to the organic produces as they believe organic foods are healthy for them, so people have good food to eat that can contribute largely to the social development. Farmers, especially smallholders live in the rural areas have better incomes from agriculture to survive their family. This would help to improve better livelihoods of the rural society, so that they can alleviate from the poverty, thus to build a step forward a better education of farmers’ children in the future.

Agroecological practices, climate smart agriculture (CSA) and organic practices do not only provide healthy foods for people and or consumers, but also play key roles to contribute to the agricultural and environmental sustainability and also human sustainability and the soil quality become rich as well. Biodiversity on land, in water and in forests would have protected and restored at the same time.

It is the fact that fighting climate change is hard because farmers in developing country like in Cambodia still need external help from donors and development partners. On the other hand, challenges on climate change now has put additional pressures to fighting poverty for rural people live in the rural areas that fall more and more burden on farmers’ organizations as a key actor amongst others such as development agencies and government as we work directly with farmers and to represent farmer members, especially smallholders with meagre and irregular incomes from agriculture and they need help from external donors, development partners and government to make sure they can overcome challenges. However, our efforts through advisory support, capacity building/training, interventions and exchanges of knowledge have enlightened farmers and people included policy makers in the society as a whole to consider highly for sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, sustainable development of the society and sustainable environment which required all relevant stakeholders to work together at national, regional and global levels, no one can do it alone to have achieved the challenges on climate change and relevant issues of agriculture and farmers. Those who received donation on net house and applying agroecological practices (AE) and climate smart agriculture (CSA) seem resilient to climate change than those applied normal practices. Those applied AE and CSA could produce healthy foods that can sell with better prices as well and they can contribute a lot to the sustainable food systems and environment as well as to restore biodiversity greatly.

In 2023 our members wish to have specific knowledge on agroecology, CAM GAP and PGS to improve their production and quality to meet market demands. Through our work to strengthen farmers and farmers’ organizations on various activities, therefore some young farmers get interested in agriculture, but they need knowledge, capital, water for irrigation and well market structure to ensure that they do not have serious problems for sales of their produces in harvest season(s) as they learned from experiences of their parents.

We observed that since March 2020, farmers, especially smallholders in Cambodia have affected already from Covid-19 additionally to climate change and global agricultural market inflation. The supplied amount was reduced gradually since then that it has generated big gap between farmer producers and big buyers. The Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP) has developed such business plan to strengthen the role of collection center based at each members’ organizations and identified such lead and priority sub national farmers’ organizations as well, however the business plan is required external experts to coach and the collection center needed to strengthen, otherwise they grow very slowly because they do not have enough capital to expand businesses properly in particular the capacity to purchase produces from farmer members for sale collectively to traders and big buyers, lack of transportation means to bring produces to clients from collection center to target markets and vice versa. Due lack of sufficient capital to structure market properly from collection of produces from farmers to storage, processing/packaging and transportation, therefore farmers in Cambodia cannot turn challenges of Covid-19 to opportunity.

Agroecological practices are foreseen as importance to sustain agriculture and the livelihoods of people live in the rural communities, therefore CFAP has developed some project proposals and exploring help from new and existing partners to support the projects. The projects aimed at sustaining the organization and providing experts to work for farmers and members’ organizations in particular to engage farmers and members’ organizations with traders and the market value chain which it is necessarily needed during the challenges affect by climate change, covid-19 and current global agricultural inflation. In response to the challenges, therefore CFAP has planned to revitalize the training model to focus specifically on a specific vocational training on agricultural standard whether it is a good agricultural practice (GAP), organic and or the participatory guarantee system (PGS), digitalization, financial reporting systems, strengthening the capacity of the collection center, advocacy, workshop to share knowledge and enabling farmers to get access to water for irrigation of their small scale farm in a year-round, provide multi purposes trees for reforestation at the farming community and provide advisory support/training for key staff members of the members’ organizations to provide direct services and advisory support to farmer members included diversification of incomes from agriculture of smallholders through training on new skills on beekeeping to ensure that small scale farmers can contribute to the community forest and biodiversity restoration actively through beekeeping activities, so they can benefit both at the same time for honey to increase incomes, reforestation and preserving biodiversity forward sustainable food systems and sustainable environment in particular those farmers’ organizations and forest tree communities where they are potential for biodiversity restoration.

Based on our direct working with farmers, farmers’ organizations/agricultural cooperatives and our role as farmers’ organization, therefore we need to speak and advocate on behalf of farmers for farmers on policy to support agroecological practices as well as water for irrigation, capital, market, laws on associations and agricultural cooperatives to serve the real interests of farmers, farming communities, youth and women live in the rural society in Cambodia.