The Challenge: Why Cambodia?
Despite a growing economy, almost 50% of Cambodian households’ experience multi-dimensional poverty, and 20% severe poverty (1). Household food insecurity and seasonal food shortages remain high, particularly in rural areas where the rice-based diet may provide sufficient energy, but lacks adequate protein, essential fats and micronutrients. Dietary inadequacy, combined with a high prevalence of infection, contributes to a set of relatively intractable indicators of undernutrition with 32% of young children stunted, and 14% of women of reproductive age, underweight (2). Anemia remains high at 56% among children under 5 years of age and 44% among women of child bearing age (2).
What does Fish on Farms propose as a solution to improve the lives of Cambodians?
Many of the poor, food insecure, and nutritionally vulnerable live in rural areas, most of whom make their livelihood from subsistence farming. These farmers, mainly women, use inefficient traditional agricultural practices. Food insecurity is not due to insufficient arable land but to a failure to optimize land use for year-round food production and income generation. This challenge provides an opportunity to help the most food insecure, especially women and children, to move out of subsistence farming using innovative methods and integrated approaches facilitated by private, public, government and community partnerships.
As a solution to poor land utilization, food and nutrition insecurity, Helen Keller International (HKI) implemented a Homestead Food Production (HFP) model in Cambodia and elsewhere. HKI’s HFP models focuses on women farmers and fostering year-round environmentally sustainable production of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and animal-source foods. HKI’s HFP programs provide initial farming inputs coupled with technical assistance, nutrition education, and training on marketing and gender equity. Ultimately, HFP has the potential to provide higher yields of more diversified crops to families and to generate income through the sale of produce, contributing to the empowerment of women.
(1) Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative,Cambodia (2013).
(2) Demographic Health Survey, Cambodia (2014).