Irrigation being rehabilitated in provinces due to French NGO

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Women on a farm in Kandal province cut herbs that will sold in the local market or sent to Phnom Penh (KT Photo: Cecelia Marshall).

By Cecelia Marshall for The Khmer Times

PHNOM PENH, October 26, (Khmer Times) – This is the international year of family farming and with 80 percent of its farming sector small and family-run, Cambodia has a unique farming demographic.  

This past April, Agence Française de Développment (AFD) gave a grant of $24 million to Gret, a French NGO.  Utilizing this funding,  Gret is now partnering with a private firm, Irrigation Service Center (ISC) and will finance privately owned power and water providers to supply rural areas that can’t be reached by state-run utilities.

Gret began these irrigation rehabilitation projects in August of this year in four provinces: Kandal; Siem Reap; Kampong Thom and Banteay Meanchey.

Smallholder farming is imperative in a country like Cambodia because it maintains a social-economic balance and provides farmers with revenue for their life, said André Pouillès-Duplaix, director of Agence Française de Developpement.

The challenge with smallholder farming is that farmers are told they must choose the types of veggies and fruit they wish to grow in accordance with the market, said Mr. Pouillès-Duplaix.

Other problems that need to be overcome include strengthening local famers with technical skills through support from local organizations and teaching them how to manage and maintain the irrigation pumps and dykes, he said.

But Gret has four years to combat these problems with the help of the AFD loan.

AFD also pledged $359 million in loans and grants to Cambodia that will be spread out over the next three years and be made available to Cambodian institutions, businesses and small and medium enterprises.

The aim of International Family Farming year is to raise the profile of smallholder farming in the world and to confirm its importance in sustainable development.

Additional goals are to protect the environment and natural resources while also eradicating hunger and providing nutrition to countries around the world.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization and the International Labour Organization (ILO), improving access to social protection and opportunities for rural employment is vital to ensuring food security for vulnerable groups in Asia and the pacific region.

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