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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN) Cambodia: Gender- and Ecologically-Sensitive Agriculture

Lead Institution:Pennsylvania State University
Award Amount: $1,000,000
Focus Country: Cambodia


Principal Investigator: Ricky M. Bates - rmb30@psu.edu
U.S. Collaborating Institution: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)
International Collaborating Institution(s):Agricultural Development Denmark Asia (ADDA), World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Asia Impact Center - ECHO, Kasetsart University, Royal University of Agriculture, Conservation Agriculture Service Center, University of Battambang

Summary: The WAgN Cambodia project aims to empower women and improve nutrition by promoting women’s participation in the value chains for horticultural crops and rice produced through sustainable intensification (SI) practices. The overarching goal of the project is to provide a scientifically rigorous and comprehensive understanding of the nexus of gender and SI. This will enable us to develop, inform and deploy synergistic programs to enhance women’s status and advance SI. We aspire to improve the socioeconomic and nutritional status of women and their families as well as identify, develop and strengthen existing and potential SI technologies, practices and policies that promote production of nutritious and marketable food while protecting agroecological resources. The project will pursue three major objectives:

  1. To identify and promote adoption of gender-sensitive SI technologies and practices in rice and horticulture value chains targeted to improve ecological resilience as well as the nutritional status and income for poor households.
  2. To identify and foster enabling conditions and social networks for women to fully participate in the local, regional and international value chains for horticultural and rice-based foods produced via SI.
  3. To build capacity in local agricultural institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and international universities and research institutes, to broaden the span of innovations in gender and ecologically sensitive SI. 

The project will promote gender equity and family nutrition by understanding and breaking down the barriers to women’s participation in the value chains for SI. We contend that horticultural and other foods produced by smallholder farmers via SI are produced and distributed through value chains that can be exploited to create new opportunities for women and improve the nutrition of their families. Our project stresses the importance of markets and will forward efforts to move Cambodian agriculture towards a market-driven system.

2017 Progress Updates

  • A key component of SI technology and practice in Southeast Asia includes the conservation and utilization of neglected and underutilized species (NUS). During this reporting period, the project established key NUS crop nutrient profiles, secured additional funding to analyze agronomic NUS value chains, and developed a strategy to include horticultural NUS into the Wild Garden research plan. The Wild Garden project is a collaboration with the World Vegetable Center that aims to sustainably intensify underutilized land at the household and village scale.

  •  The project worked to expand conservation agriculture (CA) practices as a component of SI adoption, particularly among smallholder women farmers. The number of cooperating women farmers utilizing CA increased, key training and demonstration events were conducted in new target areas, and new collaborations were established.

  • Research continues on the diversification of rice with green manure cover crops (GMCC) and relay crops in collaboration with CIRAD and RUA. A project-supported Master’s student is currently analyzing the impact of selected green manure cover crops and relay crops on a variety of soil health parameters.