Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Proposal on Sustainable Livelihood Improvement of Rice Farmers in Kompong Tralach and Samaky Meanchey districts, Kompong Chhnang province

During this week, anothe proposal on Sustainable Livelihood Improvement of Rice Farmers in Kompong Tralach and Samaky Meanchey developed. CEDAC expected to operate this project in 40 target villages in its previous target villages of ILFARM-KTL.
This proposed project will be submited to AusAID as the funding agency. CEDAC will be able to stimulus the operation of farmer cooperatives in those village if the proposed project is approved.
The submission of this proposal will be held on October 29, 2009.

Meeting with Mr. Scott, from Australia

On 27 October 2009, Mr. Yim Sok Sophors together with Miss. Pheng Chandy run a meeting with Mr. Scott, evaluator from Autralia. Mr. Scott will conduct a social impact of CEDAC project in the following month. Perhaps in January or February 2010.

During the meeting, we discussed about the general information of CEDAC’s work in the communities relating to social action. We presented to him such information. Additionally, he will submit to me and other CEDAC staff the TOR of this evaluation so that CEDAC staff will be able to provide their comment on the evaluation. Possibly, the meeting can be organized to realize the concept/idea of this impact evaluation.

Presentation of a Joint Climate Change Initiative of Capacity Development of Cambodian NGOs

On October 27, 2009, Mr. Yim Sok Sophors attended a presentation of a Joint Climate Change Initiative of Capacity Development of Cambodian NGOs at Phnom Penh Center. Forum Syd, CORD and DCA jointly organized this event with 10 Cambodian partner NGOs. Approximately 25 people who representatives of each NGO partner attended the presentation meeting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Improving livelihood for women and rural poor in Mundulkiri

The project IFWP-MP that received funding support from EC is officially implemented from 20 October 2009 to November 2011. The project will be implemented in 30 villages across 9 communes of 2 districts in Mundulkiri province.

Overall objective: The project aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and invest in vulnerable groups

Specific objective: The project aims to enable the subsistence farmers and vulnerable social groups especially women to increase their economic and social conditions through increased food production and income as well as through improved social cooperation.

1,000 direct beneficiary farmer families from 30 villages across 9 communes of 2 districts including 120 women headed families, 120 farmer promoters, 120 leaders of village based farmer organizations, 120 farmer producer group members, 120 saving group leaders and 150 representative of local authority and local stakeholders. 2700 farmer families, or around 13,500 individual farmers, in 30 villages across 9 communes of 2 districts of Mondulkiri province will get the benefit from the project direct beneficiaries through farmer to farmer extension and by improved access to services provided by the farmer organizations supported by the project

The estimated results: 

1) Farmers are able to secure their food security and family income through the increase of rice production and to diversify their agricultural production, by applying the innovations introduced and promoted by the project;
2) Improved solidarity and cooperation among farmers as well as better skilled farmer representatives lead to a greater sustainability of the farmer organizations and their collective actions;
3) The vulnerable social groups are empowered and can engage with local and relevant national government institutions and local level decision-making process affecting their food and nutritional security strategies.
4) The local authority and local stakeholders will have increased their knowledge about and their action in promoting participatory and effective social development in their villages and communes.

The main activities:
The main activities foreseen to achieve these results and outputs include: *training and coaching of 120 key farmers/farmer promoters (FP), there are 40 FPs on system of rice intensification (SRI), 20 FPs on multi-purpose farm (MPF), 20 FPs on improving the technique of pig raising, 40 FPs on ecological chicken raising (ECR) to engage integrated farming. *30 village based farmer organizations will be set with 120 leaders, *120 saving group leaders and 120 farmer producer group leaders will be coached and trained regularly in order to mobilize 30 farmer-led saving groups, 30 women led saving groups, 20 rice farmer producer groups, 20 chicken farmer producer groups, 10 vegetable farmer producer groups; *15 rice banks, and 5 agricultural input producer groups (piglet, rice seed and chick); * setting up 2 community based learning and marketing centers (CBLM); * Organize the dialogues and forums to build the capacity of 150 local stakeholders at communal level, district level, * set up 1 project coordination team consist of 25 members include representatives of department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, village chief, commune council members, district authorities, NGOs representatives and other relevant government institutions, 22 local experts will be formed in one community based organization for providing development services to the villagers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Staff recruitment for IFWP-MP in Mundulkiri province

On 19 October 2009, I accompanied with Mr. Ouch Ngak, Mr. Bao Vuthy to conduct interview for recruitment of project's staff base in Mundulkiri province. After the interview, we finally selected 2 qualified candidates to fulfill the position of district coordinator and M&E officer.

It is expected that the recruited staffs will work effectively under support from the project officer, project coordinator, etc. Currently, some staff are working in Koh Ngiek district, Mundulkiri province to conduct recruitment of community based field assistants, get to know local authorities, including district governors, commune council members, village chiefs and other governmental officials in the target districts. It is expected that introduction workshop will be organized at the beginning of November 2009.

Meeting with GAA, HKI

At 10 AM on 19 Octoer 2009, I attended a meeting between CEDAC, GAA, and HKI at CEDAC office. We discussed about the project steering committee of the projects funded by European Commission. We have agreed altogether to give comment on TOR (Term of Reference). Those 3 NGOs plan to meet every 3 months. Next meeting will be held of HKI office.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Field Mission to IFWP-MP Mundulkiri province

CEDAC has recently received approval of implementing a development project under direct funding support for the European Commission (EC). At the inception of implementing this project, a field mission for the project, entitled “Improving Livelihood for Women and Rural Poor in Mundulkiri province (IFWP-MP)” was conducted from 14-16 October 2009 at Koh Ngiek district, Mundulkiri province. 5 project staffs, included Yim Sok Sophors, Pol Samath, Mak Samath, Lam Deun, Nhim Sokhea accompanied in this mission. During the field mission, we have achieved the following points:

1. Office Settlement

The project staff tried to find house for renting as the project’s offices. Notably, the project team decided to rent one office based in Koh Ngiek district and another one based in Mundulkiri provincial town.

It is to note that one office in Koh Ngiek district will be rented with a price of 170 $US/month and 150$US/month for the project’s office in Mundulkiri provincial municipality. The agreements will be prepared from November 2009 and it will be reviewed annually.

2. Meeting among the Project Staff

During the field mission, a meeting was conducted in order to set the priority activity for October 2009. Those are mentioned as follows:

a. Organizing District Workshops

2 project’s introduction workshops will be organized at district level with averagely 60 participants per workshop. The project staff will invite different stakeholders to participate in the workshops including village chief, commune council members, district authorities, government line departments (agriculture, rural development, women’s affairs, environment, relevant NGOs), etc. The leaflet of project summary will be provided in the workshop as well as the farmer magazines produced by CEDAC. The one-day workshop will be organized on 16 and 18 November 2009.

b. Recruitment of Community based Field Assistants (CFAs)

6 CFAs will be recruited. The project will selected 4 CFAs in Koh Ngiek district and 2 CFAs in Pechr Da district. Based on the discussion during the meeting, number of target villages located in Koh Ngiek district will be more than in Pechr Da district that is why there are more CFAs will be recruited in Koh Ngiek district. On the other hand, 1 CFA who is currently working for ALP will continue working for IFWP-MP as he is qualified enough to be responsible for this role.

c. Study about the Target Villages with Local Authorities and other Local Stakeholders

The project staff of IFWP-MP will firstly join with Mr. Cheav Sopheak to learn about an existing project of CEDAC in Sok San commune, namely “Agricultural Development Project for the Sok San Indigenous Community”. Then, the project staff will conduct field visit to possible target villages in the target districts of the project. They will meet the district authorities, chief of commune councils, village chief in order to study about situation of village whether they are appropriate to be selected as the project’s target village or not. It is to note that some villages in Koh Ngiek district, majority of villagers conduct fishing as the main families’ income source, not rice cultivation.

3. Conclusion

Based on the result of the mission, it is able to conclude that the project staff have known and understood about the activities to be carried out in October 2009 especially they have known the target districts of the project. This mission is helpful for the project staff to select target villages. Moreover, the project staff will declare job announcement for recruitment of community based field assistants (CFAs). However, the project staff will conduct announcement for recruitment of project accountant based in Mundulkiri provincial municipality.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CEDAC strategic meeting at Cambodianna Hotel

On 12-13 October 2009, I participated in a strategic meeting of CEDAC at Cambodianna Hotel in Phnom Penh. Around 24 senior staff of CEDAC attended the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to develop the strategic plan of CEDAC from 2010-2014.

First of all, the participants determined their expectation in relation to the meeting. Later, it is to note that revision of CEDAC's images both positive and negative in the last 5 years, at the present and images of CEDAC in 2014 is reviewed and determined during the meeting. Furthermore, the social mission was also discussed both in the last 5 years and expectation in 5 years later was actively discussed. At the second day of the meeting, the participants discussed about vision, mission, results and determined key strategies and activities to achieve the results.

According to the result of the meeting,I felt that the future images of CEDAC i n 2014 is clear determined. The preparation is well prepared and reliable. I think that CEDAC will achieve more fruitful results in the future.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Field Research on Paddy Value Chain in Kampot Province

From 06-09 October 2009, I went to Kampot province to conduct preliminary research on paddy value chain market. I went to 3 districts, included Kampong Trach, Banteay Meas and Chumkiri. During the field visit, Mr. Nhep Mengcheang accompanied with me to visit the districts. On the other hand, I also met some officials of agricultural of offices of each studied districts. Referring to the result of discussion with CEDAC’s staff in Kampot, it is to recommend that those 3 districts mentioned above should be included as the target studied area of this research project because those district have many farmers can produce paddy for selling and 2 of them are located at the border with Vietnam.

Additionally, this field visit was also conducted in order to test the questionnaires that I have prepared. Based on this activity, questionnaires need to be improved and updated with further information that is strongly relevant to this research project. Exactly, we can come up with more ideas after discussion with experienced farmers and other key persons. I think that some existing information can be collected in collaboration with the officials of agricultural offices at the district level. It is good to include in the finding report.

I think that this field visit enabled me to learn more ideas from the key persons in the village, previously I did not target to meet the officials of agricultural offices, but I could meet during the visit. Additionally, I have collected some basic data information that is relevant to this research. I will collect more information in other districts such as Banteay Meas and Kampong Trach.

At the next time, I will form research team and I will facilitate to conduct the field research of this project in the field. I think that it is good if I can invite the officials of agricultural offices to participate in collecting data information in the studied districts. They will help us in providing relevant information from the agricultural offices of each district.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Monthly meeting of FNP coordination team

Dawn to dusk, on October 05, 2009, I participated in a monthly meeting of FNP coordination team at CEDAC head office in Phnom Penh. Almost all project officers attended the one-day meeting for sharing project’s monthly progress, presentation on ICM project by Mr. Him Neun, discussion on cooperation and other management issues.

I think that the meeting enabled the participants to learn more ideas about self-improvement and project management skills, including project’s financial management, procurement procedure, etc. If all of us have well known about this, it actually contributes to improve working performance of CEDAC as a whole. Definitely, strong team members will absolutely contribute to build up a real strong team as a result.

On the other hand, I would like to add that I was a part of the meeting to facilitate in determining main indicators of CEDAC community development. In addition to the indicators, I think that it is good for us to use the common indicators for measuring the impact of the projects. At the present, I can note that different projects use different indicators so that we are difficult to synthesize those indicators meanwhile they are inconsistent and various. In fact, we will be easy to see the impact of CEDAC in serving for rural development work, if we can systematically analyze those indicators. Moreover, it will be necessary important for us to know certainly about the progress and impact of CEDAC, so that we can state those finding data in official working papers. Furthermore, we will increase self-confidence if we can know the reliable impact of our work in the field. It will motivate us to look forward.

- I think that all development projects of CEDAC should include to use the common indicators that we have developed, it does mean that despite some projects possibly have more various indicators than the others, but the common indicators should be included,

- Progress / impact of those indicators need to be conducted regularly every year so that it can be placed in annual report of CEDAC Field Program,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Collective Savings Group

Prey Chou village is located in the Pol Pel commune, Trakak district, Takeo province. There are 237 families in this village. There are 3 different collective savings groups within the village, which are a VFA, a women’s group and a youth group. All three of these groups were formed through facilitating support from the project.

The VFA was set up in 2005. Now, the association has 25 members with a total capital of 5,133,000 riels. The women’s group was formed in November 2008 and it currently has 15 members and a capital of 1,698,300 riels. Additionally, the youth group was formed in February 2009. There are 15 members within the youth group with a capital of 668,100 riels.

Therefore, 55 out of 237 total families in the village are members of savings groups, which is equal to 23% of the total families. The total capital in those saving group is 7,499,400 riels (approximately 1800 USD). Based on interviews with the representatives of those saving groups, the saving groups are very important for the group members and other villagers because the groups enable them to access saving and credit services that are provided from within their own village.
According to the group representatives and the group members, they are happy with the groups because they improve solidarity and mutual help among the group members and members learn about new agricultural knowledge and practical experiences from other members during the monthly meetings. This knowledge enables them to improve their own agricultural practices and increase their family income as a result.

The interviews revealed the following positive aspects of these savings groups:

- The management committee members demonstrate good commitment because they volunteer to work for the group members without being paid for services.
- The process of operating saving and credit services is good. The group members save money and repay the loans to the groups regularly.
- The monthly meeting is organized and occurs consistently, so that the group members can follow up with the progress of their groups and can also learn new ideas at the meeting as well.
- The village chiefs willingly participate and cooperate. The village chief is also a member of the savings group. The chief adds support and cooperation and his presence is really important because the village chief will give his signature on the group’s loan contracts.

However, the group representatives mentioned the following weak points of the groups:

- A few members do not save regularly. Normally, the members need to deposit their savings at regular meetings, but a few of the poorest families do not have money to deposit during the meeting, so they pay in monthly savings after the meeting day.
- The amount of capital saved is low so that the saving capital of the group only slightly increases from month to month.
- The collective savings of the youth groups is as good as the other groups. Some adult members would like to withdraw from the group.
- Some members of the management committees of the groups are not fully involved in group management because they are busy tending to their personal work and duties.

Group representatives and group members said during these interviews that they want to form a network of all the savings groups in the villages, to increase the number of group members to reach 50% of all families in the village and to increase the amount of capital available to provide credit services to group members and other villagers. Once the saving groups have sufficient capital, the groups’ can help reduce the cash outflow to outsiders. Finally, they want to improve group management.

In general, the farmers have a good understanding of the advantages of collective saving. Additionally, by setting up savings groups, farmers can access credit for investing in agricultural practices. Also important, the savings groups are helpful in preventing huge amounts of money from flowing out of the villages to outsiders.

Rice cultivation through SRI practices

Nget Mao is a woman farmer from Trapaing Sragnge village, Angtasom commune, Tramkok district, Takeo province. She has contact with the project since 2003.There are five people in her family. The family has 0.7 hectares of rice field, with two cattle that can be used as draft animals for farming. She mentioned that she has adopted and adapted the SRI techniques since 2003 on a plot of rice field of 0.1 hectares. The first experiment was conducted in order to see the result of SRI. Now, she cultivates all 0.7 ha of her rice field using SRI techniques. Particularly, she has applied the technique of transplanting in rows on 0.33 ha. She mentioned that it is difficult for her to use the string while transplanting in rows, which is why she could apply this technique on only part of the field.

Mao has adopted/adapted the following SRI techniques:

- Selecting only full grain seeds for propagation by soaking seeds in water with the combination of some salts.
- Preparing raised seedbeds and soil leveling. Previously she had 3 seedbeds about 0.1 ha, but now she has reduced the number of seedbeds to only 2 plots of 0.08 ha. She added that she increased the quantity of compost for those seedbeds.
- Reducing the quantity of seed. She previously used 60 kg for 3 seedbeds but she currently uses only 18 kg for 2 seedbeds. Therefore, she reduced the amount of seed used by 42 kg after applying the principles of SRI. She additionally uses neem leaves in combination with the seeds in order to protect those seeds from damage from pest insects.
- Transplanting healthy young seedlings aged 15 to 20 days old.
- Transplanting only 1-2 seedlings per hill, which is quite different from her conventional practice of transplanting 5-6 seedlings.
- Moreover, she conducted other SRI techniques such as improving soil health by applying natural fertilizer (compost), frequently weeding in order to control the weeds and to improve soil aeration, adjusting the water level at an appropriate level, shallow root transplanting and transplanting seedlings in rows, etc. She emphasized that she completely stopped using chemical fertilizer in 2006 because she understands the negative effects of chemical fertilizer on soil degradation, economic losses due to rising price of chemical fertilizer and on human health. Before cooperation with the project ILFARM-TK, she used chemical fertilizer at a quantity of 100 kg per year, but now she does not use it anymore, which is also good for her because it reduces production expenses. At the same time, she improved and applied the technique of compost making in order to increase the quantity of compost to replace the use of chemical fertilizer. Before cooperating with project, she was able to use compost for vegetable growing only but now the quantity of compost increased, enabling her to also use compost for the rice field.
- In 2008, she spent 479,000 riels for the production cost of rice cultivation on the rice field of 0.7 ha. However, she harvested 3,360 kg of paddy as a result (4.8 t/ha). At that time, the selling price of paddy was 1,000 riel/kg. So, the total estimated income is 3360 kg x 1,000 riel/kg = 3,360,000 riels. Therefore, she earned 3,360,000 – 479,000 = 2,881,000 riels.
- Finally, she is very happy and strongly interested in the SRI technique because she can harvest more yield through the practices of SRI. In the future, she will improve and practice other techniques. In particular, she intends to conduct the technique of transplanting in rows for the whole of her rice field as well as to increase the quantity of compost used.