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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

Cambodia people smiling

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.

2019 Progress Updates

  • Surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews have been used to identify barriers to and opportunities for women’s participation in mixed-gender farmer groups and securing leadership and decision-making roles in organizations.

  • Market-demanded tomato scions grafted onto local eggplant landraces and/or World Vegetable Center evaluated eggplant rootstock enable rainy season tomato production and represent a potentially profitable farmer enterprise.

  • Research result from tomato grafting experiments, and information on project gender research and wild food plants have been disseminated to co-operators, students, faculty and government ministry officials.

  • The Minister of MAFF attended a WAgN tomato grafting demonstration at the Battambang CE SAIN technology park. Demonstrations of vegetable grafting, highlighting tomato grafted onto eggplant have been established along with interpretive materials and signage at CE SAIN Technology Parks.

  • The project has established a strong connection with the Master's of Sustainable Agriculture (MSA) program at UBB. WAgN PI, Dr. Rick Bates will begin a Fulbright at UBB Nov. 1, 2019 - May, 2020. Fulbright activities will include ongoing assistance with curriculum development to include training on appropriate SI technologies for Cambodia, assistance with graduate student research and education, and the development of a strategy and action plan to introduce tomato grafting technology as part of the secondary school curriculum.

  • Connections were made with agriculture faculty at MeanChey University via the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research SI project in northwest Cambodia.