On December 23rd, 2022, Swisscontact achieved a significant milestone by formalizing a Partnership Agreement with the Battambang Provincial Department of Agricultural, Forestry, and Fisheries (PDAFF) that aimed to promote grafting technology, specifically targeting tomato plants. The project extended its support to seed companies like Smart Agro in 2022 and the KropuchKasekor facility in 2023, utilizing strategies such as promotional events, field showcases, and the distribution of promotional materials across Battambang province's agricultural landscape.
The comprehensive S3 approach encompassed two impactful pathways:
Empowering Agricultural Groups: The first pathway focused on strengthening agricultural groups to actively engage in value chains for horticultural foods via Sustainable Intensification (SI) practices. This strategy involved forming partnerships with scaling associates to equip these groups with skills, tools, and connections, enabling increased production and access to new markets. The initiative also facilitated improved access to germplasm. Scaling partners were encouraged to establish plant nurseries, while seed companies were supported in cultivating commercial markets for cover crops.
Extending Sustainable Intensification (SI) Principles: The second pathway involved expanding SI principles and techniques from secondary educational institutions to farm households. This was achieved by establishing "green labs" in secondary schools, engaging students in hands-on SI practice training. Students then created home gardens showcasing grafted vegetables and native flora. These experimental plots, along with home gardens, provided spaces for evaluating innovative practices within the school community before real-world implementation. Applied, participatory research validated the agronomic, nutritional, and market potential of these crops.
By 2023, Swisscontact and PDAFF Battambang aimed to establish 12 new tomato grafting nurseries. However, due to resource constraints, the project’s scope was limited to supporting nine nurseries. Additionally, support was extended to five existing nurseries. The PDAFF led the training and promotional events, including demonstration plots and comprehensive training sessions. Notably, significant promotional events occurred in new nurseries located in Bavel, Thmor Koul, and Aek Phnom districts. As a result, 145 farmers, out of which approximately 50% were female farmers, adopted grafted tomato plants. The nurseries sold over 12 thousand grafted tomatoes, generating over 14 million riels, equivalent to USD$3,383 of revenue.
Furthermore, the project provided 10 internship placements, to students at the National University of Battambang. Eight students joined the internship in 2023, with two previous interns continuing from the previous year. All interns gained valuable experience with PDAFF in extension work and technical nursery consultation.
The PDAFF actively monitored technical quality and addressed challenges faced by these nurseries. Large-scale promotional events orchestrated by PDAFF successfully connected the newly established nurseries to the market. These events raised awareness of grafting technology, enhanced nursery business opportunities, and allowed farmers to make initial purchases. A total of 210 participants, including nurseries, PDAFF officers, Agriculture Co-operatives, and farmers, were engaged in these events.
The project's impact went beyond adoption to collaboration with commercial seed companies for cover crop promotion. Swisscontact collaborated with Kampong Prieng Agricultural Cooperative to optimize the supply chain and commercialization of cover crops through the KropouchKasekor intervention (Seed to Farmers). Two commercial scale events were organized by PDAFF in Kampong Prieng commune, Sangke district, in partnership with the office of Crop Seeds and Agricultural Cooperative members. As a result, over the past three years, 53 farmers adopted cover crops and substantiated their application, facilitating wholesale and retail transactions for cooperative members and farmers.
Swisscontact Cambodia through the Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture project, in partnership with the National University of Battambang supports the Scaling Suitable Sustainable Technologies project (S3). The S3 project is led by the University of Tennessee, is a sub-award under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification at Kansas State University, funded by the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to advance the capacity and roles of scaling agents in technology diffusion through applied research, technical assistance, curricula development and organizational strengthening.