As the population continues to grow, so does the demand for vegetables in Cambodia, especially the safe vegetables grown with the right techniques. Vegetables are a healthy food that is widely used in families, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, etc. and there are some are exported.
The import of vegetables is a challenge, showing an imbalance between foreign supply and domestic production meaning that domestic production is still low in terms of quantity and quality, development of product supply chain does not meet market demand, dissemination of new techniques to farmers and farming communities are not yet widespread, lack of market linkage mechanisms with cultivation plans, lack of water and irrigation systems, lack of ownership and confidence in the organization and the producer organization leadership, maintenance, organizing, setting up sanitation, and transportation as well as the lack of market information mechanisms, etc.
Prek Taben Vegetable producer organization was established by the Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (AIMS) of Kandal Provincial Department of Commerce on 07th September 2018 with 34 producing members (4 females) in order to improve safe vegetables production, strengthen producer organization to meet market demand and increase the income of smallholder ‘s families. Prek Taben Vegetable Producer Organization is located in Prek Taben Village, Preah Prosop Commune, Khsach Kandal District, Kandal Province, about 30 km from Phnom Penh. The main problems of Prek Taben vegetable producer organization are the lack of water, irrigation system and cultivation techniques. These problems have caused the organization members to lose a lot of money in their vegetable production. These major factors have discouraged the Prek Ta Ben vegetable group of the Preah Prosop vegetable group, and some farmers have abandoned their production and decided to migrate, especially affecting the entire family economy.
In order to participate in solving problems of the production and marketing in 2021, the AIMS project team intervened to strengthen the Prek Taben vegetable producer organization to have the right leadership structure and management based on the actual needs and requests from the Preah Prasob vegetable business cluster, especially from Prek Ta Ben vegetable producer organization. The project agreed and provided support under Sector Development Facilities (SDF) a well with reservoir plus solar installation to solve the problem of water shortage and increase the planting potential and production capacity of a organization with direct beneficiaries of 11 families and indirect of 6 families. This well can irrigate for 5 to 8 hectares of vegetable growing area, with a total of between 4,000 and 7,000 square meters of vegetable growing producer organization per production cycle and yielding 10 to 15 tons, comparing to the past yielded of vegetables only 9 tons per production cycle on the same surface.
The AIMS project team of the Kandal Province Department of Commerce coordinated in establishment of the management committee, including manager, deputy manager and secretary, compiling the principles and internal regulations to record incomes, expenditures, savings reserving for maintenance, retention and other expenses. Looking at the benefits of the well with reservoir plus solar installation and distribution of water usage of producer organization without special treatment of solidarity, efficiency, transparency, or impartial to any member. Prek Taben vegetable producer organization leader discussed with her group members and installed one more 500-liter water tank to ensure water supply not sufficient in the coming months and for farmers to plan to expand production area and also increase the productivity of growing vegetables at least 4 to 5 times per year on areas of between 1,000 and 3,000 square meters for each farmer, which can increase vegetable yields from 3 to 8 tons each time that will earn between 3.5 and 10 million riels depending on the type of vegetable and the growing season.
In the past, the Prek Taben vegetable producer organization spent a lot of money to buy oil to run pumps from distant ponds from their farms that each member would pay 60 liters of fuel per month equivalent to 270,000 riels for irrigating vegetables on an average area of 2,800 square meters. But after getting a well with reservoir plus solar installation, they have paid only 135,000 riels meaning that they can reduce the cost of gasoline by up to 50%. On the other hand, the producer organization can save a lot of labor because they do not spend as much time as before to manage the irrigation of vegetables, even women can come and use this irrigation well just by opening its vans attached from the well to drain the water are ready without the need for men to help prepare as before.
In addition to access the well with reservoir plus solar installation, Prek Taben vegetable producer organization has also received additional support from the project through the Value Chain Innovation Fund (VCIF) that has granted financing to eight farming families from $375 to $1,000 for the expansion of their safe vegetable production in the field along the support of the Lors Thmey Farm company, which is a technical partner of the project specializes in eggplants,
cucumber, long beans, bottle gourd, ridged gourd, bitter gourd, and tomatoes. Prek Ta Ben vegetable producer organization has also been trained by Lors Thmey Farm company on safe vegetable planting techniques for both open field and net house vegetables, including land preparation, nursery, vegetable transplantation, irrigation, and land usage, contaminant management, during and after harvest. Producer organization members, who have received grant funding and benefit from well with reservoir plus solar installation as well as training from Lors Thmey Farm company technical partners, can reduce costs from 50% to 70% of their production due to materials that farmers get and can be used more than three times. For example, in the area of 1,000 square meters of vegetables, farmers used to spend about 1,200,000 riels on production but after the intervention from project, the farmers’ production reduced the cost to only 840,000 riels.
Since benefiting from the use of water from well with reservoir plus solar installation, a grant of 35% of the total investment amount of each household and access to business literacy training (BLT) such as: group management, business planning, product marketing, and financial management through projects and project partners, Prek Taben vegetable producer
organization has developed a clear investment plan and been able to analyze the profit and loss by expanding the size of the group’s safe vegetable production to increase both quantity and quality in accordance with the standards set in the market significantly. Among them, there is Funan Safe Vegetable Market, a vegetable collection company that is building supply chains with local traders who have been doing vegetable business with producer organization. All of these factors have inspired the mindset and spirit of the vegetable producer organization members to change from traditional vegetable production or consequences production to agri-business follow the path of modernization in line with specific market demand based on quantity, quality, cleaning, grading and predictability.
The Prek Taben vegetable producer organization leader, representing the group of farmers said, “We are very happy that all members’ vegetable production has achieved better yields after receiving support from the AIMS project, especially sector development facilities, that has made the group members united and knew how to organize the distribution of water for irrigation of vegetables effectively in long-term without discrimination”.
Strengthening compilation of producer organization’s structure, investment, and adoption of new techniques in line with climate change, as well as cooperation in joint production planning of the Prek Taben vegetable producer organization of Preah Prasop vegetable cluster are good experiences to improve the vegetable cultivation of farmers as members and can meet the market demand in terms of quantity, quality products, especially affordable prices to increase household income. Moreover, production by group has the opportunity to receive additional incentives from the AIMS project through the sector development facilities a well with reservoir plus solar installation, which is a real need to increase productivity crop production that can catch higher yields to take the markets both locally and outside the province, including Phnom Penh as well as collection companies.
However, the use of such infrastructure as public property, commission preparation and internal regulations play an important role in managing and allocating the use of irrigation water efficiently and transparently, especially participation in protection and maintenance for long time use. [Download]