Safe and sustainable agriculture pays off for one Cambodia cucumber farmer


Mr Sen Thol checks on his cucumber harvest. Photo @Chantola Nat.

The Core Agriculture Support Programme (CASP II) agriculture project is transforming the Great Mekong Subregion into a hub for safe and sustainable agricultural products. One farmer recounts how his prospects have improved.

“We now use much less water in farming and sell our vegetables for a better price. We just had a bumper harvest of cucumber – a record 680 kg – from our small plot,” said Mr Sen Thoi, a farmer and father of five, from Tboung Khmum province in Cambodia.

Through Core Agriculture Support Programme Phase II (CASP II) interventions, Sen Thoi and his wife, Suong Srim, learned climate-friendly agricultural practices and green water management that have slashed their water use by half compared to their conventional agricultural practice in the past. The couple built a pond to collect rainwater and used drip irrigation to pump water from the pond. To reduce evaporation, they surrounded the pond with trees and vines, and applied mulch on the cucumber rows. They also learned to compost, and now use slurry, dried leaves, and biochar for fertilizer.

"NIRAS fast-tracked CASP Phase II by adopting the concentration approach, strategically focusing on the key pillars of food safety, trade modernisation, and sustainable agricultural practices." Andre Ban, NIRAS Country Director, Cambodia

Sen Thol, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo @Chantola Nat.

After harvesting cucumbers from their small farm plot, they consolidate the produce with those of other members of their cooperative (also established through CASP II) at a collection centre for washing, grading, packaging and labeling. The packed cucumbers are then sold at the local markets and to the Natural Agriculture Village shop in Phnom Penh under a contracting scheme that pays 15% higher than the market price. Their group also sells produce from a government-provided organic stall at the local market.  

We have water supply now for our farm the whole year, and together with the new practices that we learned, this means steady earnings for our family.

Sen Thoi, farmer and beneficiary of CASP II in Cambodia.
Mr. Sen Thol with Mr. Apichai Thirathon, agronomist expert. Photo @Chantola Nat.

A bountiful harvest

The couple are among some 12,300 farmers from six Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and People's Republic of China), their families, and other stakeholders in the agriculture industry who have benefited from CASP II as NIRAS concluded its two-year technical and management assistance in June 2018. Farmers reported an average of over 30% increased income as a result of CASP II interventions.

“Both local and national governments in the region are encouraged by the successes we have seen on the ground, and are committed to continue the promotion of green water management and climate-friendly agriculture,” said Andre Ban, Country Director of NIRAS Cambodia.

CASP II background

To shift the focus of GMS agriculture from production of high-intensive but environment-degrading products to value chain supply of safe, environment-friendly agriculture products and inclusive goods, the Asian Development Bank, together with the National Secretariat Support Units of the agriculture ministries of the GMS countries, launched the CASP II.

Building on the earlier phase of CASP, which emphasised cross-border agricultural trade and climate change adaptation, phase II’s goal is to further enhance global market access for the region’s climate-friendly agri-food products through capacity building, business development, and improved regional agriculture and policy networks.

With the GMS poised to take sustainable agriculture to the next level, GMS farmers like Mr. Thol have a bright future ahead.

Photo @Chantola Nat.

Client: Asian Development Bank

Local partner: Agrifood Consulting International

Location: Greater Mekong Subregion

Value: US$4,768,104