Nurture Veg—Nurturing Sustainable Practices for Smallholder Vegetable Farmers
Context and Project Objective
Rural farmers in northwestern Cambodia often struggle with low yields and poor-quality produce, and their challenges are now exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Many farmers also lack the planning and business skills to take full advantage of market opportunities. This limits their ability to earn a good income and results in an inadequate supply of vegetables available to lower-income consumers in the region, with associated impacts on community health.
Under the Cambodia Horticulture Advancing Income and Nutrition (CHAIN) project (2018–2021), EWS-KT worked to tackle market system constraints and improve service delivery to smallholder farmers, especially women-headed households. CHAIN encouraged smallholder farmers to diversify their production of vegetables by introducing advanced horticultural techniques and establishing the market linkages required to generate additional income, while addressing malnutrition by promoting dietary diversity.
Nurture Veg—Nurturing Sustainable Practices for Smallholder Vegetable Farmers is one component of the Nurture Project (2023–2026) being implemented by HEKS/EPER and Caritas Switzerland. Nurture Veg builds on the CHAIN project by:
- Focusing on the vegetable sector to build smallholder farmers’ climate resilience through strengthening income from vegetable production and diversifying livelihoods.
- Setting key indicators for women’s participation. EWS-KT is now better positioned to monitor impact through data collection that is disaggregated by gender; to learn lessons from gender budgeting and gender-specific approaches to recruit female lead farmers; and to increase women and youth participation through digital learning, online platforms, and mobile-based discussion groups.
- Building on the geographic areas reached during CHAIN, starting with Battambang and Banteay Meanchey; scaling to Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey in later phases to include more rural vegetable producers.
- Leveraging established partnerships with government departments, NGOs, and farmer groups to deliver improved gender-responsive horticulture extension and group-strengthening services.
- Catalyzing market development and inclusive business relationships between agricultural input dealers, equipment suppliers, technology suppliers, traders and buyers, and farmer groups.
The aim of this pilot project is to catalyze opportunity in less developed areas where farmers vulnerable to climate change struggle with low and poor-quality yields and have fewer income-generating opportunities. By creating opportunities for income development and greater resilience to climate change at the farm level, EWS-KT’s work will spur marketplace development and increase the supply of affordable vegetables for lower-income consumers. With improved knowledge, farmers can better optimize production toward specific market needs.
The project will train farmers by demonstrating vegetable farming techniques suitable for local agronomic and climatic conditions. Dedicated EWS-KT field staff will teach modules on a wide range of topics, including these agroecological and climate-resilient approaches:
- Basic agronomy, soil improvement, and land preparation
- Seedling production (including grafting), transplanting, protective cultivation, and mulching
- Integrated pest management (IPM), including safe handling and judicious use of pesticides
- Nutrient management
- Crop maintenance, harvesting, and production planning
- Water management and efficiency, including irrigation techniques
- Business and financial skills (variety selection, crop planning, record keeping, asset management)
- 100 key farmers (50% women) intensively trained over 2–3 crop cycles for 1 year; during this time, they will be prepared to support core group farmers (neighboring farmers recruited by the key farmers) in the second year. In the second year, EWS-KT will continue to nurture key farmers to maintain results.
- 330 core group farmers intensively trained. Core group farmers will be supported for 1 year by the EWS-KT team. In the second year, they will be supported by key farmers who were trained in the first year.
- 800 farmers will gain an additional source of livelihood.
- 2,640 farmers will attend regular field-based training events.
- 3,000 farmers will be exposed to enhanced agroecological and climate-resilient techniques through existing EWS-KT and collector networks.
- 13 agro-input dealers will be equipped with horticultural knowledge and extension materials.
- 5,000 farmers will have improved access to better-quality inputs and will get better advice from existing EWS-KT networks, agro-input dealers, crop guides, and social media.
- 3,000 farmers will achieve an average 18% increase in yield due to training interventions, with key farmers on average doubling their yield.
Funding partners: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), HEKS/EPER, and Caritas Switzerland
1 August 2023 – 31 January 2025
Cambodia: Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces