Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meeting at EC office

On 25 February, I participated in the meeting which taken place at the EC office in Phnom Penh. Several NGOs preventatives (ZOA, MEDICAM, NDP , and CEDAC) participated in the meeting with Mr. Dirk Meganck, Director for Asia and Central Asia of the European Aid. The meeting lasted only for one hour started from 14:30 to consult between NGOs/civil societies and the EC (the donor agency).

The main topic discussed during that time is NGOs law that will be set up by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). It is to note that the EC on one hand supports to RGC and another hand supports to NGOs/civil society. NGOs/Civil society believe that that NGOs law set up by the RGC will provide negatively effect to them especially the NGOs/civil society that are working involve in human right and advocacy. During the meeting, NGO representatives raised that EC should work with the RGC to develop a good NGOs law because “No Law is Better than Having a Bad Law”, this is what one of the participants mentioned during the meeting.

The NGOs afraid that the RGC will set up the law to control the budget of their NGOs because they have heard that the RGC wants to control budget of NGOs for anti-terrorism, and NGOs need to request budget from the Ministry of Finance for their operation. In that way, it will reduce the independence of NGOs, this is what the participants mentioned. Some participant said that we can submit the financial report including sources of budget to the RGC, but we need to have own bank account. In this way, it is transparency and can be a model for the RGC to follow us as well.

Ultimately, in dealing with this matter, the participants suggested that NGOs should jointly develop the content of the NGOs law and submit it to the RGC to take into consideration. Additionally, they want to define what is POLITIC because they afraid that the RGC accuses them to be involved in politics and terminate their NGOs.

Another thing, participant raised that the EC should reduce some criteria/requirements because it is difficult for small local NGOs to access grant from the EC for each call for proposal, only big NGOs can access to the grant. In return, Mr. Dirk Meganck responded that we cannot satisfy all NGOs and he also implied that small NGOs are lack of management and transparency despite majority of them are not registered properly at the ministry of interior.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Field Visit to Prey Veng and Svay Rieng Provinces

From 23-24 February 2009, I went to Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces because I wanted to see the progress of vegetable growing conducted by the cooperating farmers of the project “Linking Farmers to Market”. Based on what I have seen the practices of farmers in the field, I could note that there are still many farmers have grown vegetable even now it is the late rainy season. Some of farmers have been using water from pond and others from the drilled well. I see that those farmers experienced of vegetable growing for a few years but they have not yet understood so well about negative impact of chemical fertilizer and pesticide. Currently, most of them use chemical fertilizer and pesticide for vegetable production, but it is used in the small amount. But after cooperating with the project, they wanted to reduce or stop using of chemicals.

However, there is a difficult for vegetable farmer producer in this year due to the price is now hugely decreased if compare to the last year. It is not good to benefit farmers as they have done previously. Based on the individual interview with farmers, they raised that this is because of much amount of vegetable is imported from many other places in the country especially Vietnam. In such condition, the local farmers lost of market opportunity in term of selling their vegetable products and it is not a good factor to encourage the local producer to try more effort. At the same time, the local consumers also have not got healthy vegetables for consumption because they are using imported vegetable from Vietnam which is cheaper than the local products that contains high chemicals. The main reason why the local producers cannot compete with imported vegetables from Vietnam is the production cost.

On the other hand, I could note that most of the cooperating farmers with the project are the medium farmers in term of their livelihood standard. Therefore, the project needs to make more effort to persuade the poorest families to become the members of the vegetable farmer producer groups so that the project can contribute to poverty alleviation among the poorest families. It is to highlight that the project expected to choose 150 poorest families out of 500 total target families.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


1.Facilitating the commune workshop with sugar palm producers

On 17-18 Feb 2009, the project staff has facilitated one 2-day communal workshop on the topic of formation of sugar palm producer groups. 26 participants (5 women) attended the workshop. It is to note that representatives of provincial department of women’s affairs, district office of women’s affairs, women affairs at the commune level as well as village chief have also participated. It is to mention that the project staff has presented about the strategy of forming the sugar palm producer groups at the village level as well as the federation of sugar palm producer groups at the commune level. The groups are empowered if they formed into federation/network.

Additionally, it is to remind that 159 families in 5 villages of Prey Tung commune are interested in sugar palm producer groups, and now 2 sugar palm producer groups with 29 members have already formed in the commune. Furthermore, the governmental officials especially the local authorities are also interested in the idea of forming sugar palm producer groups because they want sugar palm producers to be formed together for collective business activity.

2.Organizing group training for key farmers in Prey Tung commune

One training session for 16 key farmers (2 women) at the commune level was facilitated by the project staff. The main topic of the training focused on ecological chicken raising. As the result of the training, the key farmers are interested in how to provide mix-feed to chicken especially the chicks, improved sanitation and to improve the method of designing the chicken house.

3.Progress of agricultural innovations practices in Prey Tung commune

Vegetable Growing

Based on the data information from the village chief and key farmers, 36 farmers have applied the technique of vegetable growing. Several kinds of vegetables have been grown by the cooperating farmers such as cucumber, water convolvulus, bottle gourd, wax gourd, egg plant, green petiole, etc. the average arable land for vegetable growing is 0.04 ha for each family. But there are some families cultivated in the bigger size as they grow water melon and string bean in the rice field.

It is to note that there are some positive changes in term of technical practices under the project intervention, those are mentioned as follows:

- The cooperating farmers conducted poly culture (integrated vegetable growing): farmers grow many kinds of vegetables in their vegetable gardens which previously they practiced monoculture;
- The cooperating farmers have adopted the technique of making liquid compost and solid compost. They are likely pay more attention to produce natural manure instead of using chemical fertilizer especially for family consumption;
- Farmers have improved the designation of vegetable garden and rows as well as fencing method;
- It is to note that the farmers are able to prolong the period of supplying vegetable for family consumption. Furthermore, 20 out of 36 families who have grown vegetables are able to sell their vegetables for generating further family income;

Ecological Chicken Raising (ECR)

23 families have adapted the technique of ecological chicken raising, they have applied some of 13 principles of ECR. Only 2 families have built the chicken fences, but the rest of the cooperating families have renovated the chicken house for hatching and other technical practices such as:

- Farmers have provided regularly the clean water to chicken especially they use medicinal plants soak into the water;
- Farmers have conducted de-worming by using herbal medicine;
- Additionally, farmers have also improved the sanitation especially they regularly clean feed container and water container;

Based on the impression from farmers, the number of farmers who will improve the technique of chicken raising will be increased simultaneously.

4. Further remarks

It is to note that during this period from February to May 2009, the sugar palm producers are busy in producing sugar palm so that it is difficult for the project staff to make appointment with them for the training or meeting. The convenient time for them is between 11 am and 2pm.

5. Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, the sugar palm producers are interested in the formation of sugar palm producer groups because it is easier for them to conduct collective selling of the sugar, they can learn knowledge and skill of producing good quality sugar as well as other agricultural techniques from each other, they want to improve negotiation power with the middlemen/merchants for a better price. Furthermore, the local authorizes especially the commune chief and village chief are active in providing support to the formation of sugar palm producer groups.

Moreover, it is able to conclude that the number of farmers who apply agricultural innovations promoted by the project will be increased gradually. From now on, the application of chicken raising will be enhanced, because during the individual follow up advice conducted by the project staff, farmers promised that they will practice it especially among the sugar palm producers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Project Fact Finding

From 9-13 Feb 2009, a fact finding on agriculture situation in Kor Kor district, Pursat province and Mong Resey district, Battambang province was conducted by the Mr. Yim Sok Sophors, a staff members of Field program unit of CEDAC. The fact finding was carried out through interview and discussion with several key informants such as the representatives from provincial department of agriculture, district office of each studied district, the local authorities including the village chief and commune council members as well as the villagers.

Based on the result of the fact finding, the result found out is available to use for proposal writing in collaboration between CEDAC and TPO for a joint proposal to the EC (European Commission).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Progress of IOM project

In this month, January 2009, there is a good progress in term of vegetable growing adopting/adapting by the cooperating farmers. The number of farmers have significantly increased if compare to the previous months. Additionally, we note that they are applying the technique of vegetable growing very well such as seedbed preparation, seed selection, pest control based on the principle of ecological agriculture, ordinarily, farmers use botanical pesticide and other mechanical method to control pest in their farms.

According to the result of vegetable growing, farmers can increase agricultural production especially the supply of healthy vegetable for family consumption and to generate further income for the family. It is able to mitigate the dependency of vegetable import from Vietnam as well so the domestic family agricultural product is increased.

In this month, Mr. Chhin Saray who is the YCL (Young Community Leader) also have been working involved in awareness raising on negative impact of chemical pesticide to human health and environment. It is really that he works in that area, Thnot commune in Kompong Ror district, and another one commune called Chantrea which is located in Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province. Most of the farmers in that area are using huge quantity of chemical pesticide and fertilizer for rice cultivation and they lack of knowledge on prevention method and the negative impact of those chemical to human being and environment as well as the economy. With our work in that area, the project staff have cooperated actively with the village chief to arrange some main events to raise the understanding of local farmers on chemical pesticide. Currently, key farmers have gained more understanding on chemical pesticide and they are playing critical role in disseminating the message of negative impact of pesticide to the other farmers in the village.

On the other hand, the project has also conducted individual follow up visit to sugar palm farmer producer in Sithor Kandal district, Prey Veng province. They have understood more and more about the collective selling of their products in order to increase the negotiation power with middlemen for their collective benefit. It is to note that the activity relating to supporting to form sugar palm producer groups should be formed in the dry season because it is a good time for farmers to produce sugar palm and it is able to organize collective selling among the group member as well.

Finally, the conclusion is that the number of farmers who applied agricultural innovations especially vegetable growing have gradually increased to meet their family need and supply for local market. The number of key farmers who can play important role in disseminating agricultural innovations in the community is also increased as they have learned well from the project. The local authority is good cooperation with the project and they support and participate in the activity of the project.