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Since 2012 till present the Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP Cambodia) has initiated and organized several farmers’ contest events (FCE) aim to (1). to empower small scale farmers included youth and women in agriculture, (2). improve vegetable and crops production for both quantity and quality to meet higher market demands through standardized systems such as the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and friendly agriculture, thus to sell their products collectively to markets at sub-national and national levels, (3). to engage smallholders getting access to agreement (verbal agreement and contract agreement) with big companies, (4). to strengthen the capacity of producer associations/agricultural cooperatives on economic literacy and giving advisory support on vegetable and crops production for high market demands, (5). to involve producers’ organizations and agricultural cooperatives in other development programs of the international development agencies and government for better policy support in the future.

The last farmers’ contest event organized by CFAP Cambodia on 6th March 2020 with funding from ICCO through GRET Cambodia in partnership with Svay Chrum Agricultural Cooperative locates in Trabaek village, Svay Chrum commune, Svay Chrum district, Svay Rieng province, Cambodia and in collaboration with national farmers’ organizations platform, the association organized under the theme “BEST LOCAL VEGETABLE CONTEST EVENT” which participated by more than 100 farmers come from 15 provinces and municipalities in Cambodia and relevant stakeholders such as the Provincial Deputy Governor, Director of the Provincial Department of Planning, Director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Representative of the Provincial Department of Commerce, Deputy District Governor, Chief of Agricultural District Office, Commune Council/Chief of commune, Communal Administrative Police, village chief, University, Development partners, journalists and Media.

CFAP Cambodia has facilitated to organize the event to enable farmers access to the opportunity to gather together all multi stakeholders to join in the farmers’ contest event and to empower small scale farmers to continue their farming sustainably for long run, improve vegetable and crops production to meet high market demands, engage smallholders to meet with buyers, local authorities, development partners and many other relevant stakeholders who work on agriculture and value chains.

The event also aims to involve producers’ associations and agricultural cooperatives in other development programs in Cambodia, thus fore members’ organizations get access to partnership directly with stakeholders to strengthen themselves effectively by their own. Normally, farmers bring different types of local leaf and fruit vegetables such as cucumber, string bean, salad, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, eggplant, lemon grass, winter melon, gourd, kangkong, spinach and many other crops to join in the contest.

In order to engage farmers’ contest event in policy support, therefore digitalization can help. Normally, before starting the event, CFAP Cambodia produce a short video relates to the event to promote local produces and market activities and challenges faced by farmers from on farm practices to enterprising produces to markets to ensure that all participants understand about challenges, difficulties and needs of smallholders and taking into their consideration to engage policy support in the future. The short video also presents about the management of the agricultural cooperative, work performance of the controlling committee following the governing structure of agricultural cooperative and activities of the cooperative with farmer members included services, agricultural production, marketing, agricultural inputs supplies and value chains.

The event has organized to engage/match producers and buyers, improve and disseminate the local products of smallholders, improve the participation of youth and women in agriculture, help increasing agricultural production, thus to reduce imported vegetables and some other foods from outside, thus to improve the collaboration opportunity between farmers as well as farmers’ organizations with local authorities, relevant stakeholders and policy makers. The event also encourages farmers in particular smallholders to focus more on agricultural technical protocols from land preparation, taking care of crops to harvest and packaging following standards farmers prefer in the future such as Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Geographical Indications (GI) and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) which required by higher markets currently, nationally and internationally now and in the future. The event also provide opportunity or multi stakeholders to successful stories on agricultural practices, challenges face by smallholders in Cambodia on climate changes, new pests, diseases and markets. Moreover, farmers can express their concerns face by farmers on capital, water source, market, packaging knowledge and agricultural technology for policy support in the future.

The event provides great opportunity for farmers, buyers and many other relevant stakeholders to meet and discuss for understanding with each other about demands of products and quantity of products especially vegetable, crops and meat need daily.

The participants can also share stories from the field on markets to avoid producing over market demands that can make loss for farmers, therefore farmers do harvest technically and good packaging to get value added.

The event was welcomed by multi stakeholders such as sub national government, the Provincial Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF), provincial department of environment, provincial department of women affair, provincial department of commerce, provincial department of rural development, district governor, commune council and multi stakeholder actors, they expressed their sincere thanks to CFAP Cambodia to initiate this event and sponsors of the event to engage relevant multi stakeholders especially farmers who are the key actors to produce food for supplying markets nationally and internationally. We believe strongly that in the future, farmers in Cambodia can produce qualitative products for export to neighboring country and in the region.

The event also enables farmers come from across the country to meet and share knowledge and experiences on agriculture in particular producers and buyers to meet and match business with each other for future collaboration to find solution for farmers on markets, technical skills, capital and water for the farming communities.

Unfortunately, the world is facing with outbreaks of the CORONA VIRUS/COVID-19 since February 2020, then the travel restriction was made accordingly till 2021 and in 2023 our smallholders still get impacted negatively from the Covid-19 as farmers and their organizations are not strong enough to take opportunity from the challenges of Covid-19 and farmers’ organizations are required to build capacity further to ensure they are capable to turn challenges to opportunity in the future.

The farmers’ contest event provides good opportunity for all multi stakeholders to minimize gap, thus to engage agriculture, young and women farmers in markets and policy support for better cooperation. In order to make sure that the farmers’ contest event is free and fair for all farmers who bring their produces to contest, therefore CFAP has formulated a rule to nominate multiple stakeholders who come from different sectors to stand for a scoring committee, they are produces collector, key farmer, agricultural product seller, public service provider and development partner to establish a scoring committee. The scoring committee has to perform their duty with respect to the scoring guidelines which focused mainly on 1). cleanness of produces, 2). high market demands, 3). good quality and 4). good packaging of produces. The lowest score is 1 score and the highest score is 10 score for each scoring guideline 1 – 4.

Each winner is identified to receive award as a certificate, seeds, organic fertilizer and small amount of money to improve and expand their farming practices to meet quality market demands when they go back to their community.

In 2024 the Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP Cambodia) plans to continue the Farmers’ Contest Event to ensure local produces, young farmers and women farmers as well as farmers’ organizations in Cambodia are recognized as key food producers and key services providers to improve agriculture, food systems, environment, food security and climate change with policy support.

After the completion of each farmers’ contest event, we can conclude that the event provide a great opportunity for farmers, especially small-scale farmers and farmers’ organizations at all levels to meet with their fellow colleagues and relevant multi stakeholders such as traders, inputs suppliers, agricultural products sellers, services providers, local authorities, provincial department of agriculture forestry and fisheries (PDAFF), provincial department of commerce (PDOC), provincial department of rural development (PDRD), provincial department of women affairs (PDWA), provincial department of water resource and meteorology (PDWRAM), provincial department of planning, University, district governor, commune council, development partners and many other actors involve in rural development. The multi stakeholders get opportunity to have good exchange and sharing of what smallholders have faced and are facing in farming activities and strengthening network between smallholders and relevant multi stakeholders. Moreover, Smallholders get more opportunity to exchange and share their knowledge and experiences on market prices, market issues to find better solutions and cooperation.

Small scale farmers get awareness on agricultural standards for example Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Organic agriculture, Geographical Indications (GIs) and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), thus they can consider highly to follow which standards they would prefer to apply on their farms to meet different kinds of clients and markets with better prices in the future when they go back home.

All the participants, farmers, traders, development partners, farmers’ organizations and the local authorities, governmental provincial departments and provincial governor appreciated to the organization of the farmers’ contest event initiated and organized by CFAP Cambodia and ask CFAP Cambodia to continue to organize this event annually with participation from relevant stakeholders such as government, private sector, farmers’ organizations, development partners, research institutes and media and so on and so forth.

In this regard, in 2024 CFAP Cambodia will continue this event to enable all multi stakeholders to participate, discuss and exchange their opinions to improve agricultural production to meet safe and healthy food with policy support of smallholders, farming communities, farmers’ organizations and agricultural cooperatives as key food producers in the future.