Helping Cambodian farmers grow their businesses

Woman and man sitting next to bags of eggplants in field (Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II/Solina Kong)
Vegetable buyer Lach Nam, right, collects eggplants from farmer Chun Sokhom to sell at the market. Their collaboration was facilitated by Cambodia Harvest II. (Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II/Solina Kong)

Chun Sokhom, a farmer in Cambodia, was able to get her eggplants to market in Phnom Penh when a U.S. government program helped connect her with Lach Nam, a vegetable buyer.

Farmers like Chun Sokhom are the backbone of the Cambodian economy. More than 60% of Cambodians live in rural areas, with most relying on agriculture, fisheries or forestry as their main sources of income.

But the climate doesn’t always cooperate. Cambodian farmers are vulnerable to extreme weather events resulting from the climate crisis, such as drastic temperature changes and heavy rainfall.

For more than a decade, under a program called Cambodia Harvest, the U.S. government has been working with Cambodian farmers and entrepreneurs to improve farming across all climates, increase crop yields and create new markets.

During an August 4 visit in Cambodia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the U.S. will provide $25 million for the next phase of that partnership, called Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest III.

“We’ll help connect more Cambodian farmers and businesses to markets both here at home and abroad,” he said.

Boosting farmers’ incomes

Woman smiling and pointing to package of vegetables in her hand (Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II/Solina Kong)
Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II supported women entrepreneurs like Bun Sieng, owner and founder of Natural Agriculture Village. (Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II/Solina Kong)

Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global program to combat poverty and hunger, is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program also funded the Cambodia Harvest I and II projects.

Cambodia Harvest II focused on fruits, vegetables and spices. Harvest III will add grains, fish and other products. And while Harvest II worked in select provinces, Harvest III will be nationwide.

The program will continue to help farmers boost their incomes through various methods. One way is to increase access to tools like greenhouses, which can help lengthen growing seasons and improve product quality.

Harvest III also will work with agriculture cooperatives, technology providers, financial institutions and others to help Cambodian farmers and entrepreneurs hone their skills and capture market opportunities in the agriculture sector.

Some highlights of Cambodia Harvest II during 2017–2022 include:

  • $28 million in new private sector investment.
  • 2,500 new jobs.
  • $75 million in sales in horticultural businesses.

In the last decade, the U.S. government has invested $100 million to bolster nutrition and family incomes in Cambodia by strengthening the country’s agriculture sector.

“We believe in our partners. And we want to do a lot more good work together,” Blinken said.