GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME 

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO CAMBODIA

17 February 1999

MISSION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Despite drought during May-September, scattered pest infestation and some flooding in mid-November, the 1998/99 wet (main) season paddy production is estimated at 2.88 million tonnes, 8 percent higher than last year.

  • The dry season paddy harvest, forecast at 0.64 million tonnes, is about 14 percent below 1997/98, due to reduced irrigation water.

  • Thus, total paddy production in 1998/99 is estimated at 3.52 million tonnes, 3 percent higher than last year.

  • With opening stocks estimated at 64 000 tonnes, the domestic availability of rice (milled basis) in 1999 is forecast at 2.24 million tonnes.

  • Against a forecast total rice utilization of 2.21 million tonnes, a small surplus of approximately 30 000 tonnes can be expected in 1999.


1. OVERVIEW


The El Niño-related drought of 1997, was followed by late arrival of the wet season rains in 1998 which were also below normal in many areas, leading to fears of a poor wet season harvest. At the request of the Government of Cambodia, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) visited Cambodia from 11 to 29 January 1999 to estimate the 1998/99 wet season rice harvest, forecast the dry season rice production and assess national food supply situation for 1999.

The Mission reviewed data from a special crop assessment survey undertaken earlier by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in collaboration with WFP, collected information from various government departments, UN agencies, donors and NGOs at national, provincial and local levels. Field visits were made to six of the country’s 23 provinces namely, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Takeo and Kandal, in the course of which the Mission interviewed farmers, traders (millers, wholesalers, retailers) and non-farming rural residents.

Contrary to fears of a reduced output, the Mission forecasts the 1998/99 total paddy harvest at 3.52 million tonnes, some 3 percent above the 1997/98 production and 19 percent above the average of the last five years. This output includes an estimated 2.88 million tonnes of 1998/99 wet season paddy and a forecast 0.64 million tonnes of dry season paddy. The impact of the drought during the period May to September was mitigated by abundant rains from mid-September through December, enough to allow a 4 percent increase in area harvested. In addition, pest damage (by rats, brown plant hopper and stemborer) reported in various locations in October was not as severe as initially feared. As a result, the wet season paddy output, estimated at 2.88 million tonnes, is about 8 percent higher than last year.

However, despite the abundant precipitation from mid-September onwards, river and reservoir levels are lower than in the previous year. Consequently, the dry-season crop, which normally requires supplementary irrigation, is not anticipated to do well. Both harvested area and yield are expected to be reduced. Therefore, the dry-season paddy output is forecast at 0.64 million tonnes, about 14 percent below the 1997/98 harvest.

With an estimated opening rice stock of about 64 000 tonnes, total domestic rice availability (milled) is estimated at 2.24 million tonnes. Against total utilization requirements estimated at 2.21 million tonnes, a small surplus of nearly 30 000 tonnes is forecast. The relatively small size of the surplus compared to recent years reflects a larger national population derived from a recent population census.

Despite the estimated surplus, however, vulnerable segments of the population will face varying degrees of food shortage in 1999. The Government is, therefore, urged to be cautious with regard to decisions on rice export in 1999.

Emergency food aid for vulnerable groups, which constitute a relatively large proportion of Cambodia’s total population, is estimated by WFP at 40 000 tonnes of rice for 1999, plus varying amounts of other food commodities (fish, vegetable oil, etc.). It is estimated that these needs can be met under the recently approved WFP Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation. Confirmed stocks and pledges currently stand at 17 400 tonnes of rice, leaving a shortfall of 22 600 tonnes. `


2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT 1/


1/ Sources of information include: Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, Cambodia Development Resource Institute, IMF Staff Country Reports, EIU reports,

2.1. The Economy

The Cambodian economy was centrally planned from the early 1980s until 1991. Attempts at reform started in 1985, but gathered momentum only after 1992. Progress towards a market economy has since been considerable, with state-owned enterprises now accounting for less than 10 percent of GDP. Growth during this period has been led by the manufacturing and services sectors, while agricultural output, on average, lagged behind population growth. With an estimated annual per caput income of about US$ 276 in 1997, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

The average annual economic growth rate of 5 percent during the period 1992-96 was disrupted by civil strife in 1997. Real GDP growth fell to 1 percent in 1997 from 7 percent in the previous year. Correspondingly, per caput income declined to US$276 from US$292. While the economy is expected to recover following the formation of the new coalition government in November 1998, progress may be slow due to persistent political uncertainty and the deterioration in the macro-economic environment.

The rate of inflation has been rising, from 7.1 percent in 1996 to 8.0 percent in 1997 and to an estimated 12 percent in 1998. The exchange rate of the Cambodian Riel to the US dollar fell from an annual average of 2 634 in 1996 to an estimated 3 820 in 1998. Private investment commitments on a fixed assets basis has recovered from the 8 percent drop in 1997 to US$844 million in 1998. But investment commitments in the agriculture sector had fallen from US$126 million in 1996 to US$77 million in 1997, and are estimated at US$51 million in 1998. Also, the current account deficit of 6.1 percent of GDP in 1998 is expected to rise to 6.9 percent in 1999. Foreign reserves stagnated at an estimated three months worth of imports in 1997-98, and could remain at about the same level in 1999. At the same time, the regional currency devaluations have seriously affected the competitiveness of Cambodian labour and exports and the dearth of capital in neighboring countries like Malaysia and Thailand has reduced foreign direct investment. These unfavorable developments resulted in zero real GDP growth in 1998.

2.2 The Agriculture Sector

The agriculture sector is expected to be the prime-mover of the economy. The Socio-Economic Development Plan 1996-2000 estimates that 85 percent of the population live in rural areas, 75 percent of the labour force work in agriculture and 42 percent of GDP is derived from the sector. It calls for employment and income generation through sustainable agriculture and rural development within the framework of a market economy.

Cambodia's most important agricultural commodity, rice, accounted for nearly one-third of total agricultural output and almost 14 percent of total GDP in 1997. Rubber and other crops (such as jute) accounted for 24 percent of agricultural output in 1996, with livestock accounting for 29 percent. Fishing and forestry each contributed under 10 percent of agricultural output and less than 4 percent of GDP.

But Cambodian agriculture, forestry and fisheries face more than the typical low-income food-deficit country constraints of shortage in capital and technology. There are serious problems, partly the result of three decades of war and civil strife. Displacement of farmers, land mines, abandoned fields, continuing insecurity and shortage of manpower have caused a significant decline in paddy area from 2.5 million hectares in 1967 to 1.9 million hectares today. The transportation network is rudimentary, war-damaged and in a serious state of disrepair. Most of the rural roads are impassable during the rainy season and two-thirds of the railway lines are in urgent need of repair. Only a small fraction of the 234 000 hectares of irrigated dry-season rice land is presently fully irrigated.

These war-related constraints have held down productivity of the sector which encompasses 3.8 million hectares of arable and permanent crop land, 1.5 million hectares of permanent pasture and 12 million hectares of forest and woodland. The dominant rice crop, which takes up nearly 90 percent of cultivated land, along with maize, rubber, pulses, roots, groundnut, soybean and fruit and vegetables are vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly the frequent floods and droughts. Major crop losses occur once every three to four years.

Besides natural disasters, the subsistence nature of agriculture is another productivity-inhibiting factor. There is, for example, limited use of improved crop varieties and fertilizers. The need for mechanization to ease on-farm labour shortage is also not being met. Agricultural support services, especially input supply, research and extension, marketing and credit, are just being started from scratch with foreign assistance.

The first five-year plan mentioned above targets, among other things, five major areas in agriculture for priority action, namely de-mining and reclamation of farmland; rehabilitation and extension of the irrigation system and improving water management; land-use planning; strengthening input supply; and setting up support services especially credit, marketing, and research and extension.

Rice Production

Rice accounts for some 84 percent of annual foodcrop production, 91 percent of the cropped area and provides 68 percent of total energy requirement. It is grown mainly in the Central Mekong Basin and Delta and the Tonle Sap Plain. Over the decade to 1997, rice production increased rapidly by over 4.4 percent per annum to reach 3.4 million tonnes. This growth reflected increases in harvested area (2.3 percent per annum) and yield (2.1 percent per annum). These increases were achieved despite erratic rainfall, shortage of labour and capital, and the war-ravaged institutions and physical infrastructure.

Five different rice systems are practised in Cambodia, three in the wet season and two in the dry season:

Lowland rainfed rice is the main rice crop and is cultivated during the wet May-December season. Three main categories of rice are distinguished by their different maturation periods, i.e., early, medium and late maturing varieties. The November-May dry-season crop, accounting for 10 percent of total planted area and close to 18 percent of output, takes advantage of the flood receding waters and uses supplementary irrigation at a later stage. Dry-season paddy area has increased by 30 percent in the period 1994-98. However, the planted area is dependent on the annual rainfall and the Mekong floods and, consequently, on the water levels of irrigation reservoirs. As a result, rice production fluctuates significantly with fluctuations in rainfall, which have been wide in recent years.

2.3 Crop Production in 1998/99

Rainfall

The 1998/99 wet season rice paddy crop has experienced adverse weather conditions. Rains started as usual in April but were interrupted from May, with drought conditions continuing up to early-September. As a result, land and nursery preparations, sowing and transplanting were delayed. However, precipitation was above average from mid-September and continued, unusually, up to December, compensating for the earlier moisture deficit. Total precipitation was below the average for the previous four years in some important rice producing provinces such as Kandal, Kampong Cham, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap, and Banteay Meanchey, while in others, such as Prey Veng, Takeo, Svay Rieng and Kampong Speu precipitation has been above the 1994-97 average (Chart 1).

Undisplayed Graphic

The drought, some pest outbreaks and the late wet-season rains adversely affected an estimated 160 000 hectares of the crop. Out of this affected area, 105 000 hectares were totally destroyed mainly in the two key producing provinces of Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. The pest outbreaks were dominated by the brown plant hopper, grasshopper, stem borer and rats. In mid-November, storms and heavy rains caused some flooding and limited crop damage on about 12 000 hectares of paddy fields in six provinces, but principally in three, namely Battambang, Takeo and Phnom Penh. Some dikes, village roads and irrigation works were also damaged. However, abundant rains from September to December enabled replanting with early maturing varieties and recovery of the late maturing rice.

Nevertheless, the decrease in the amount of flood water from the Mekong River system, which seems to be on a downward trend (Chart 2)., impeded adequate replenishment of dams, reservoirs and canals. Consequently, dry season rice production, which is mainly irrigated, is expected to decline.

Undisplayed Graphic

Use of Inputs

Use of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and quality seed is very low. Continuous cultivation with poor replenishment of nutrients has impoverished the soils. At present the total consumption of inorganic fertilizers is estimated to be around 40,000-50,000 tonnes corresponding to a fertilizer rate of 20-25 kg per hectare or less than 10 kg of nutrients per hectare.

At present farmers rely mainly on their own seeds or purchases of uncertified seeds from private traders. Availability of quality seeds is very low, with quality rice seed sufficient for around 10 000 hectares or only 0.5 percent of cultivated area. The figure is even lower for other crops.

Paddy Production

The Mission’s assessment of the wet-season paddy production in 1998/99 took into consideration the results of a special survey undertaken in December 1998 by MAFF in collaboration with WFP. The survey covered 1312 communes in 15 provinces (out of a total of 23), accounting for over 97 percent of the country’s rice production. Information on planted area, harvested area, damaged area, the nature of the damage and yields enabled the Mission to assess the performance of the wet-season paddy. For the minor rice-producing provinces that were not covered by the survey, the Mission’s estimates were based on the cultivated rice areas reported by MAFF.

The Mission estimated the 1998/99 planted area under wet-season rice at 1.83 million hectares, of which 1.74 million hectares (95 percent) were harvested (Table 1). With an estimated yield of 1.65 tonnes per hectare, a wet-season paddy output of 2.88 million tonnes is expected. At this level, the 1998/99 wet-season paddy crop compares favorably with the 1997/98 crop of 2.67 million tonnes and the average for the last three years of 2.73 million tonnes.

Table 1: Cambodia – Paddy production in 1998/99

Crop 1998/99
98/99 as
%
of 97/98
1997/98
98/99 as
% of 96/97

1996/97
Wet Season
Area (‘000 ha) 1 744 104 1 685 106 1 640
Production (‘000 tonnes) 2 880 108 2 673 105 2 733
Yield (tonnes/ha) 1.65 104 1.59 99 1.67
Dry Season
Area (‘000 ha) 217 89 244 99 219
Production (‘000 tonnes) 635 86 742 97 657
Yield (tonnes/ha) 2.93 96 3.04 98 3.00
All
Area (‘000 ha) 1 961 102 1 929 105 1 859
Production (‘000 tonnes) 3 515 103 3 415 104 3 390
Yield (tonnes/ha) 1.79 101 1.77 98 1.82


Sources:1996/97 FAO/WFP CFSAM; 1997/1998 MAFF
1998/99: Mission forecast

To forecast the 1998/99 dry-season crops, including flood recession and irrigated paddy for harvest in March/April 1999, the Mission relied on surveys on planned cultivation of dry-season rice and the other crops. These were supplemented by official MAFF reports, assessments of other international agencies and on-the-spot observations. The major constraint foreseen to dry-season rice is the lower-than-normal reservoir levels for irrigation. The area planted to dry-season rice is, therefore, forecast at 217 000 hectares, about 11 percent below last year. With an expected yield of 2.93 tonnes/hectare, dry-season paddy production of 635 000 tonnes is forecast. This is significantly lower than the estimated 742 000 tonnes in the same season of 1997/98.

The Mission estimates that total paddy production in 1998/99 will amount to 3.52 million tonnes, with the wet-season crop accounting for 82 percent of the output. Total production is about 7 percent below the MAFF target of 3.77 million tonnes, but higher than last year’s 3.41 million tonnes and the 3.37 million ton average of the previous three years (Table 2).

Table 2: Cambodia – Paddy production 1995/96-1998/99

  1995/96 1996/97 1997/98 1998/99
Area Harv.
('000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
('000 t)
Area Harv.
('000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
('000 t)
Area Harv.
('000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
('000 t)

Area Harv.
('000 ha)

Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
('000 t)
Wet season 1 592 1.75 2 785 1 640 1.67 2 733 1 685 1.59 2 673 1 744 1.65 2 880
Dry season 190 2.80 533 219 3.00 657 244 3.04 742 217 2.93 635
Total 1 782 1.86 3 318 1 859 1.82 3 390 1 929 1.77 3 415 1 961 1.79 3 515

Sources: 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99: Mission assessments

1997/98: MAFF figures

 

Other Crops

Other foodcrops are grown on some 10 percent of the total harvested area (Table 3). Kampong Cham province is the main producer of soybean, maize, vegetables, mungbean, groundnut and sesame, accounting for 40 percent of non-rice cultivated area. The drought from May to early September severely affected production. Production of non-rice crops in various years is shown in Table 3.

Table 3 - Area (harvested), Production and Yield of crops other than rice (1995/96 - 1998/99)


Area (‘000 ha)

Production (‘000 tonnes)

Yield (ton/ha)

1995/96

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1995/96

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1995/96

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

Maize

45.0

47.0

34.1

47.4

54.9

64.6

42.4

61.6

1.2

1.4

1.2

1.3

Cassava

12.4

13.0

13.0

7.3

82.0

69.7

69.4

39.1

6.6

5.4

5.4

5.4

Vegetables

39.2

41.9

35.0

28.0

193.0

249.7

176.8

165.2

4.9

5.6

5.1

5.9

Mung bean

25.2

26.8

27.4

25.0

19.6

13.8

15.3

13.8

0.8

0.5

0.6

0.6

Soya bean

16.5

16.7

32.7

34.2

17.2

28.3

56.3

58.5

1.1

1.7

1.7

1.7

Sesame

8.3

11.7

15.9

14.6

3.8

5.5

3.1

6.4

0.5

0.5

0.2

0.4

Sweet potato

9.4

10.0

9.1

6.8

39.1

38.0

28.9

25.5

4.2

3.8

2.2

3.8

Groundnut

9.0

11.2

9.5

8.4

6.8

6.2

7.0

5.8

0.8

0.6

0.7

0.7

Sugar cane

7.4

7.0

8.0

6.0

202.5

171.3

187.5

147.0

27.3

24.4

23.3

24.5


Sources: 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99: Mission assessments
1997/98: MAFF figures

 


3. RICE SUPPLY AND DEMAND SITUATION



3.1 Prices and Access

The Mission’s visit (January) was at a time of plentiful supply of rice, as the bulk of the crop is harvested in November and December. Farmers often sell a major proportion of their produce immediately after harvest to repay debts and meet other urgent expenses. This results in very low prices at harvest time and is reported to have often encouraged provincial traders in border areas to export the grain to neighboring countries. Later in the year, prices rise and attract some imports.

The average price of rice in Cambodia has risen significantly in both nominal and real terms over the past two years. Although the rise can partly be attributed to the devaluation of the local currency (Chart 3), prices have also risen in US dollar values.

Undisplayed Graphic

Large differences in rice prices were observed between provincial and urban markets. These differences were much larger than the costs of transport between markets, reflecting other imperfections and the fragmented nature of the marketing system.

3.2 Rice Supply/Demand Balance for 1999

In deriving the rice balance sheet, the Mission adopted the following assumptions

The rice balance in Table 4 indicates a small surplus of 29 000 tonnes compared to a surplus of 104 000 tonnes estimated by MAFF for 1998 and 127 000 tonnes estimated by the Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission of 1997. The surplus is much reduced despite a 3 percent increase in production over 1997/98. The main reason is that a higher population figure based on the latest population census in March 1998 was used in the calculation of rice consumption.

Table 4: Cambodia - Rice Balance Sheet 1999 (January-December)


('000 tonnes)
DOMESTIC AVAILABILITY 2 244
Production 1998/99 2 180
Wet season 1 786
Dry season 394
Opening stocks 64
TOTAL UTILIZATION 2 215
Food consumption 1 780
Animal feed and other non-food uses 44
Seed 109
Post-harvest losses 218
Closing stocks 64
SURPLUS 29

It is recognised that there is unrecorded cross-border trade in rice between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Data on such trade however is not available. If anything, there is likely to be net export, which would imply a reduced effective availability of rice and hence, a reduced surplus, in Cambodia in 1999.

The food situation by province is given in Table 5. It shows that among the 15 main rice-producing provinces, five are rice-deficit. In the remaining eight minor rice-producing provinces, there will also be a collective deficit. It should be pointed out, however, that food insecure households exist in every province. The Mission met farmers working on very small plots of land (less than 0.5 hectare) in both surplus and deficit areas, and in view of the low productivity on these family plots, agricultural and food assistance programmes should target some of these farmers, who are among the very poor households.

The Mission noted the extreme physical difficulty and high costs of transporting commodities within Cambodia. It also learnt that, in some cases, the more accessible and better mills are found on the other side of the border, making markets in the border provinces integrated with those of the neighboring countries. Often it is more profitable to sell surpluses across the borders than to deficit areas in other parts of Cambodia. It also seems to be cheaper to import from neighboring countries when the need arises. Under these circumstances, it would be desirable for donors, including WFP, to purchase local rice surpluses for internal transfers to deficit areas or for triangular transactions. Apart from cost savings, they would be helping to support prices in surplus areas.

For the medium to longer term, the Mission endorses and reiterates the recommendations of the previous two Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions that high priority should be given to improving irrigation facilities and management, extension services and post-harvest operations. A major thrust towards higher agricultural productivity, intensification and diversification should be built within the framework of the on-going FAO Special Programme for Food Security, in collaboration with other projects, such as the Cambodian IRRI-Australian Project (CIAP). Special attention should be paid to the prompt implementation of the World Bank Seed Production Component and the provision o f production and marketing credit to enable farmers to participate in the intensification programme.

Table 5: Cambodia - Rice Balance Sheet by Province 1998/99

Province Wet Season Dry Season (forecast)

Total Rice Prod.
Paddy
Prod.
('000 t)

Post
harvest
and
non food
uses
('000 t)
Production available
for food

Popula-
tion
('000)

Rice

Consump-
tion
('000 t)

Surplus/
Deficit
Rice ('000 t)
Low Land Rice Upland Total Wet Season Cropped
Area
('000 ha)
Paddy
Prod.
('000 t)
Paddy
('000 t)
Rice
('000 t)
Harv.
Area
('000 ha)
Paddy
Prod.
('000 t)
Harv.
Area
('000 ha)
Paddy
Prod.
('000 t)

Harv.
Area
('000 ha)

Paddy
Prod.
('000 t)
Banteay Meancheay 124.7 239.9 0.0 0.0 124.7 239.9 0.1 0.3 240.2 40.8 199.4 123.6 595 89.9 33.7
Battambang 167.3 333.4 1.4 1.6 168.7 335.0 2.0 5.3 340.3 57.8 282.4 175.1 816 123.4 51.8
Kampong Cham 153.9 350.4 6.2 6.9 160.1 357.3 30.6 81.3 438.5 74.5 364.0 225.7 1656 250.4 -24.8
Kampong Chhnang 79.1 137.5 0.2 0.2 79.3 137.7 8.7 26.3 164.1 27.9 136.2 84.4 430 65.0 19.5
Kampong Speu 82.1 115.6 1.6 1.7 83.6 117.3 0.8 2.2 119.5 20.3 99.2 61.5 616 93.2 -31.7
Kampong Thom 107.6 199.5 2.6 2.3 110.2 201.8 2.4 5.0 206.8 35.2 171.6 106.4 586 88.5 17.9
Kampot 114.9 188.2 1.9 1.6 116.9 189.8 2.1 4.9 194.8 33.1 161.7 100.2 544 82.2 18.0
Kandal 41.6 80.6 0.6 0.7 42.2 81.2 45.3 154.3 235.5 40.0 195.5 121.2 1 106 167.2 -46.0
Phnom Penh 6.4 12.8 0.0 0.0 6.4 12.8 0.9 2.3 15.1 2.6 12.5 7.8 1 028 155.4 -147.7
Prey Veng 201.8 285.4 0.0 0.0 201.8 285.4 47.9 145.1 430.4 73.2 357.3 221.5 974 147.2 74.3
Pursat 70.5 124.4 0.0 0.0 70.5 124.4 0.0 0.0 124.5 21.2 103.3 64.1 371 56.1 7.9
Siem Reap (incl.Od.Meanch.) 174.2 223.6 6.5 5.6 180.8 229.2 9.2 21.5 250.6 42.6 208.0 129.0 787 119.0 9.9
Svay Rieng 149.2 155.1 0.2 0.2 149.4 155.3 7.8 20.4 175.6 29.9 145.8 90.4 493 74.5 15.9
Takeo 162.0 280.3 0.0 0.0 162.0 280.3 52.7 150.3 430.6 73.2 357.4 221.6 814 123.0 98.6
Kratie 19.5 34.8 0.5 0.5 19.9 35.3 6.6 16.6 52.0 8.8 43.1 26.7 271 41.0 -14.2
Other Provinces 52.2 83.5 15.1 13.6 67.3 97.1 0.0 0.0 97.1 16.5 80.6 50.0 686 103.7 -53.7
Cambodia 1706.9 2845.1 36.9 34.8 1743.7 2879.9 217.1 635.7 3515.6 597.7 2918.0 1809.1 11770.7 1 779.7 29.4

3.3 Food aid needs for 1999

Assessing food aid needs for 1999

In spite of a small national-level rice surplus, there are five major factors that cause food insecurity among certain population groups within Cambodia:

Commune level production/per caput variations: commune-level (administrative sub-District) data reveal that less than 25 percent of rice growing communes, representing approximately 15 percent of the population, are producing 75 percent of the national surplus. National food supplies are therefore just adequate, but distribution remains a problem among a significant number of communities. On average, even within the five surplus rice Provinces analyzed, 17 percent of communes suffer from significant rice deficits (greater than 3 months consumption deficit).

Current nutritional status: With national stunting rates at 56 percent, underweight levels at 52 percent and a wasting rate of 13 percent (SESC/MICS, 1996) and seasonal sub-national wasting rates as high as 20 percent for children under five years of age (UNICEF/WFP, 1998), Cambodia faces a very serious nutritional situation. By comparison, the underweight prevalence in Laos is about 40 percent while the malnutrition rates in Myanmar are 35 percent. These poor anthropometric outcomes, accompanied by levels of anemia in children at 80 percent in rural areas, demonstrate that there is a widespread need for improved consumption at the household level.

Table 6: WHO recommended cut-off points for classifying countries and/or regions within countries according to the prevalence of stunting and underweight (WHO, 1997)


Height-for-age (< -2.00 s.d.) Weight-for-age (< -2.00 s.d.)
Low < 20 percent < 10 percent
Medium 20 to 29 percent 10 to 19 percent
High 30 to 39 percent 20 to 29 percent
Very High >= 40 percent >= 30 percent
Cambodia (National) 56% 52%
WFP-UNICEF Survey 1/ 49% 61%

1/ 1998 Sub-national survey of UNICEF and WFP programme areas in Cambodia, 13 provinces.

Indebtedness: A serious problem among the rural poor is indebtedness for rice supplies during the year. In WFP-targeted communes, averages of 30.2 percent of families were in debt for daily needs for more than three months of the previous year. In the Joint UNICEF-WFP Baseline Survey, 59 percent of the women who were moderately to severely malnourished reported using some of their rice harvest to pay back loans as compared to 38 percent of the mildly malnourished and 35 percent of the well nourished. In addition, more than 60 percent of the moderately malnourished women also borrowed from money lenders (with interest rates of 100 percent or greater), while only 50 percent of the other women reported borrowing in the previous year. While serving as a short-term coping strategy, this practice of longer-term borrowing often carries unacceptable risks.

Food security zones with distinct livelihood structures: While income from rice farming is most often the key income earning activity for rural households, 26 percent of the people state non-rice sources as their primary source of income. Even within the primary rice farming households, there are wide variations in terms of dependency on rice. Based on land cover types, agricultural statistics and socio-economic survey data, five food economy zones have been identified in Cambodia: Lowland rain-fed, Scrub, Forest, Riverine, and Urban/Market, as well as some mixed zones. By defining food economy zones, factors such as droughts, deforestation and poorly developed water resources are more precisely identified in terms of their impact on food security. Two of these zones, lowland rain-fed and scrub/degraded forest, have been primarily targeted by WFP for rehabilitation activities to assist communities with severe problems of chronic or recurrent food insecurity.

Targeting and needs assessment

The targeting process is centered on three groups of beneficiaries: (a) people in chronically food insecure communes and special population groups in the Protracted Emergency Target areas; (b), social sector beneficiaries; and (c) people affected by short-term emergencies.

To assess the food aid needs of chronically food insecure people in 1999, an initial list of 470 communes was complied by WFP in consultation with concerned Government offices and NGOs. These were then filtered through a selection process based on two composite indices. One was an analysis of the Poverty Score Index for each of these communes and the other was the presence of the communes within a "High Priority District".

High priority districts were selected on the basis of six indicators. These were indebtedness, migration, food-for-work outside the village of residence, number of villages within the district that were greater than 2 kilometres from a national road (a proxy for nutritional status), percentage of insecure villages in a district and WFP staff’s ranking of the district. Each of the indicators was carefully selected on the basis of its link to people’s vulnerability/food access.

The Poverty Score Index is a composite of 27 indicators that were selected on the basis of a group targeting exercise. WFP and Ministry of Rural Development carried out this exercise with inputs from other agencies such as the FAO, GTZ, and Cambodia-IRRI-Australia Project (CIAP). A rapid appraisal survey of 2,751 selected villages in the country within 550 communes was conducted at the end of 1996 and early 1997. The 27 indicators from the survey were grouped into five indices representing crop production/landlessness, income diversity, personal wealth/assets, risk coping strategies, and village assets. These were then combined to calculate a Poverty Score Index that allowed the comparison of the overall poverty status in 550 communes.

Using the above two composite indices, 170 communes out of the original 470 have been initially selected for WFP food assistance in the 1999 programme year. These are the chronically or recurrently food insecure communes included in Table 7 below.

Protracted Emergency Target communes are selected on the basis of six criteria: 1) loss of assets; 2) man-made events causing an involuntary change in livelihood strategy; 3) high-risk coping strategies; 4) poor security within the last 12 months; 5) socially isolated from services and neighboring communes/villages, and 6) inadequate income. The target populations within these areas are returnees, long or short-term IDPs, or recently resettled communities usually within the old civil conflict zones.

A special target population (sub-category within the Protracted Emergency Target areas) comprises families living in areas until recently outside of the control of the Cambodian Government. These areas were closed to the outside world until recent mass defections and are classified as "Reconciliation Zone" communes. The targeting criteria for selection are those areas that were not under Government control prior to August 1996.

Approximately 37 000 Cambodian refugees are presently being repatriated from camps in Thailand by UNHCR. Many of these families will require food assistance to re-establish themselves in their homelands. Based on information from UNHCR, a majority of the refugees will be relocating to Reconciliation Zones, or to locations targeted by WFP as Protracted Emergency Target areas. About 4 500 people have also chosen to return to their ancestral homeland in the remote northeastern provinces of Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stung Treng and Kratie. All returnees will receive an initial 50-day food ration and then it is envisaged that they will be integrated into WFP-supported community recovery and rehabilitation activities until at least their first harvest after resettlement, at the end of 1999.

WFP food assistance to social sector beneficiaries will have as its strategic focus improving the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable at critical times and promoting self-reliance. The target group for activities will include tuberculosis patients, illiterate women, street children, amputees at prosthesis centres, members of poor families receiving training through NGOs and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and lone elderly people.

WFP has an extensive field presence and coordinates with the RGC National Committee for Disaster Management, the Emergency Response Group comprising UN agencies, NGOs and the Cambodian Red Cross to react immediately to assist victims of short-term emergencies.

The estimated food aid needs for each of the above groups of beneficiaries is provided below:

Table 7: Food Assistance by Type of Beneficiary

Type of beneficiary Number of communes Total population covered
(figures in parentheses

indicate beneficiaries)
Estimated food aid needs in tonnes (rice)
Chronic food insecure area populations 195 1 380 000 (828 000) 20 700
Protracted Emergency Target populations (IDPs, Returnees, Reconciliation Zones) 89 550 000 (250 000) 13 800
Social sector beneficiaries (literacy and skills training, TB patients, vulnerable groups) - (48 500) 4 000
Short term emergencies (victims of floods, droughts, fires, etc.) - (50 000) 1 500


Note: The above are results from WFP’s targeting process conducted at the beginning of 1999. The following factors that could alter the above needs are currently being considered: (a) Protracted Emergency Target areas are being re-assessed in a survey of 1,040 households to be completed in March 1999; (b) additional food insecure communes may be added to the initial target list over the course of 1999 as people exhaust rice stocks.

Table 8: Food aid (rice) in 1999

Planned Food Aid Programming –1999 40 000 tonnes
WFP Stocks and Confirmed Pipeline 17 400 tonnes
Food Aid Need Yet To Be Resourced 22 600 tonnes

 

Programme implementation and logistics

During January 1999, the VAM unit of WFP compiled an initial list of food-insecure target communes for programming in 1999, which will be provided to implementing partners, Provincial Departments of Rural Development (PDRD) and NGOs. PDRD or NGO staff meet with Village Development Committees (VDCs) at the lowest level in the government’s decentralized structure for rural development planning, to inform them of the participatory process to be followed in the selection of food-for-work projects under PRRO 6038. A variety of issues are discussed at village meetings, including priority needs, types of activities, scale, participation of vulnerable groups, gender equality, community contribution, community ownership and maintenance plans. Proposals are jointly assessed by all partners: community representatives; WFP field monitors from the WFP provincial sub-office; and the implementing partner, PDRD or NGO. Following consensus, an agreement is prepared which specifies the details of the activity, including the number of participating households, food rations, and the volume of work output, with technical specifications prepared by the implementing partner (PDRD or NGO) and approved by the WFP technical monitor.

The project details are then entered into the WFP Project Database. The activities are supervised by members of the community, and monitored daily by the implementing partner. WFP staff pay regular visits to monitor progress and technical quality. On completion of the activity, the community and the implementing partner measure the final output of the project. WFP staff then independently check this output measurement. When the final output has been agreed, the implementing agency prepares a food request order that must be approved by the WFP Provincial Sub-office Head. WFP maintains 12 Provincial Sub-offices, covering all 23 of the Provinces and Municipalities in the country.

Logistics

The WFP Country Office has one international Logistics Officer and three national staff responsible for the overall management of commodity movements, reporting and local purchases. Six warehouses are maintained in the provinces under WFP management. Transport services to project sites are being provided by the Cambodian Red Cross under an annual service contract.

Crop assessment

The assessment of crop production at a commune level conducted jointly by WFP and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in November and December 1998 has generated useful data for project planning in Cambodia. It is strongly recommended that the government should assume the full responsibility for such surveys in the future.

 

 

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Chief, GIEWS FAO
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:GIEWS1@FAO.ORG

Ms. J. Cheng-Hopkins
Regional Director, OAC, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-06-6513-2863
E-Mail: Judy.Cheng-Hopkins@WFP.ORG

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