Twelve members of the ACT Alliance are joint in the Cambodia Forum. In August 2018, they hired an agricultural advisor to be shared by all the members for a period of one year. A report published in November 2019 analyzes outcome and impact of this test phase.
The ACT Alliance Cambodia Forum broke new ground for more effective livelihood program development when it pooled resources and jointly hired an agricultural advisor in August 2018. “Most member organizations in Cambodia are active in the field of agriculture, and they fight with similar problems”, say Co-Forum convenors Suzanne van Huijgevoort and Sinat Hin from ICCO. There are six ACT members active in livelihood programs in Cambodia, including Dan Church Aid (DCA), Finn Church Aid (FCA), Inter Church Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER), World Renew (WR) and Church World Service (CWS).
Approach of the advisor
In August 2018, Sdok Khorn was selected to fulfill this role. He traveled to the provinces where forum members work to get to know the different livelihood development models, discuss them and guide capacity-building courses for partners, farmers’ leaders and staff of ACT Alliance members. Khorn conducted the livelihood project mapping of the geographical areas as well as of best practices and project-implementing models in order to identify the strength and potentials for improvement of livelihood projects. The mapping also showed synergies between ACT members, weaknesses of the project implementation, and identified the needs of each member. As a result, ACT members who had overlapping livelihood projects started to discuss cooperation. The mapping helped to enable collective activities like training courses, agricultural cooperative forums, learning events and some members exploring the integration model of project implementation.
Challenges in contract farming
Another important issue to agriculturalists in Cambodia is disaster resilience in the face of climate change. Khorn suggested allocating budget for drought and flood resilience, as both issues are happening every year in the same geographic area of Cambodia.
Many farmers faced challenges after committing to a buyer. The beneficiaries of livelihood projects of ACT Alliance members are poor and median farmers. Khorn found that they often were not aware of the consequences of contract farming. In particular, poor farmers frequently could not meet the high standards of the contracts, the procedures and payment terms. He advised them to focus on producing goods for the local market, where they could get a better price for safe and organic products. He also suggested the diversification of market systems as a very good choice for every project, supported by push and pull approaches according to the condition of each project and market situation.
Balance after one year
The one-year pilot ended in August 2019 as agreed by all funding organizations. The findings of the advisor led to new insights into how to strengthen the collaboration between different organizations and optimize interventions. One year is short and more time is needed to identify specific interventions, but all organizations have learnt a lot from each other and staff members from different projects have been given the opportunity to study each others’ models in more detail. The Cambodia Forum would recommend other forums that have an interest in working together and mobilizing a joint resource person to make sure expectations are set clearly at the beginning.
For further information please contact:
Suzanne van Huijgevoort, email@example.com (co-forum convenor)
Sinat Hin, firstname.lastname@example.org (co-forum convenor)
Saara.Lehmuskoski, Saara.Lehmuskoski@kirkonulkomaanapu.fi (former convenor)
(Pictures courtesy Paul Jeffrey and Sinat Hin)