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Siem Reap Meanchey Melon Association found in 2011 by 27 household members, 5 females with a starting capital of 8,100,000.00 Riels (KHR). The association aims to improve incomes of members who are smallholders through growing new crops and vegetables such as melon, water melon, onion, garlic, tomato cheery, bell peppers and asparagus to meet market demands both quantity and quality with competitiveness fairly in a year-round in particular markets in Phnom Penh. Currently, the association has 313 household members, 60 females or 91% increased membership in 12 years.

New crops in Cambodia, firstly our members found difficulties for technical protocols, climate condition, soil condition and markets because they are new to consumers and also new to climate in Cambodia. Currently, the association has capital of 160,000,000.00 Riels (KHR) with increased land size of 260 hectares. The association has created a collection center to collect produces from farmer members for packaging and supplying markets daily in Phnom Penh in average 28tons per month and in general the association has several small-scale businesses such as (1). sales seeds of melon and yellow water melon to farmer members, (2). collective sales and purchases of melon, yellow water melon, tomato cheery, bell pepper and onion from members, (3). provide small agri-credit loan to smallholders, (4). conduct study visits for farmer members and (5). provide technical training on growing melon, yellow water melon, onion, tomato cheery and bell pepper to farmer members and non-members in Cambodia.

Growing new crops as mentioned above, the association realized that smallholder farmers have understood better about the climate condition and soil condition, therefore they have to apply knowledge and skills very carefully to ensure that their farming practices can help to improve the soil quality and sustain environment for long term with resiliency to climate change and quick change of weather patterns now and in the future. In order to grow with good quality to meet high market demands, high yield and avoid over markets, therefore the association provided specific advisory support to all farmer members to grow in a rotation and following clear cropping calendar of the association. In average, each household member grows two crops per year. Farmers do not have to grow the same crop as a previous one, instead they have to grow new crops such as cucumber, long bean, ridge gourd and some other different crops. The association does not allow farmer members to grow same crops on the same soil to avoid stressful and poor soil quality occurrence in the future, instead to improve the soil quality with sustainable agriculture. These practices help ensuring sustainable soil for agriculture and soil quality improvement in policy support.

All farmer members of the association are specialized on growing of melon, water melon, onion, bell pepper and tomato cheery. Most farmer members want to expand their farm size bigger than present to expand quality of produces to supply increased demands on current and future markets. For instance, Mr. Heng Horn, one of the members wishes to expand his farm size from 3000 square meters to 10000 square meters in the coming years. Melon normally takes about 60 days from growing to harvest, it could be more or less it depends on the varieties. The yield of melon is around 12tons – 18tons/crop/ha in average, and it costs 3500 to 4000 Riels (KHR) per Kilogram or US$0.875 to US$1 the prices at the farm gate.

Mr. Van Ien, Chairman of the melon association said that melon can sell well on markets compared to other crops, however the association faced some challenges and difficulties as follow: –

– Lack of capital to use as a revolving fund within the association.
– Still overlapped scheduling amongst farmer members that resulted over market demands, especially in Covid-19 period.
– Bad quality seeds/fake seeds.
– Farmer members do not report their schedule regularly to the association.
– Lateness of repayment from big companies to the association to payback to farmers on time.
– Growing not responding to market demands.
– Transportation issues from farms to the collection center.
– Market prices inflation.
– High competitiveness on markets.
– New members lack of technical skills of how to grow melon and other new crops to meet quality and quantity.
– Lack of sufficient experts to help farmer members on technical matters.

In order to meet increased farmer members, farm size and quantity of the association’s produces, therefore the association has developed a three-year business action plan to ensure the association has clear strategy to work for farmer members, collective sales and purchases, supplying markets and better uses of a revolving fund.

As a member of the Cambodian Farmer Federation Association of Agricultural Producers – CFAP Cambodia, therefore in 2023 the Melon Association Siem Reap Meanchey – MASC was selected by CFAP Cambodia under funding support from APFP-FO4A project with the regional support from AFA/LVC and funds by IFAD and EU to develop a critical business action plan to improve the capacity of collective sales and purchase of the association to buy produces from farmer members for packaging and sales to big companies in Cambodia, especially for big buyers in Phnom Penh. The business action plan last about 3 years i.e. from December 2023 to December 2025.

In coming years, the MASC will (1). improve the quality of produces to meet high market demands, (2). find better way in collaboration with big buyers/companies to pay back to the association faster in order to the association pay back to farmers on time, (3). seeking for additional markets inside and outside Cambodia to meet the increased quantity of members’ producers, (4). increase farm size additionally to meet market demands, (5). increase more new crops to meet increased market demands such as bell pepper, tomato cherry and onion, (6). wish to have own office for administrative work, (7). wish to have own vegetable shop, (8). increase more participation in trade fair events inside and outside Cambodia, (9). wish to have own processing and packaging place, (10). wish to have own cooler for storage of collected produces to keep good quality for supplying markets and (11). strengthen cropping calendar to avoid over produces at markets in the future.

Though MASC has strong structure from farmers to markets, the association really need to collaborate with other sectors, especially research institute, big companies, international development partners and government with policy support to increase more farmer members to increase more quantity and quality to meet current and future market demands.

In conclusion the association needs additional capital to collect produces from farmer members on time for supplying markets, provide technical training to new farmer members, have own collection center for processing and packaging of produces, increase numbers of marketing officers to meet increased numbers of farmer members, collaborate with seed producers to ensure farmer members have good seeds quality and expanding markets for farmer members in the future.