FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Green Climate Fund approves an adaptation project to improve climate resilience of Cambodian smallholder farmers in the Northern Tonle Sap Basin

15/03/2023 Songdo, Republic of Korea

At its 35th Board meeting, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved a USD 43 million project in Cambodia to enhance the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers, local communities and other value chain actors of the Northern Tonle Sap Basin to cope with the increasing threats of climate change.

The “Public-Social-Private Partnerships for Ecologically-Sound Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods in Northern Tonle Sap Basin (PEARL)” project was formulated under the leadership of Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The approved amount will fund the six-year project that will benefit 450 000 smallholder farmers and local value-chain actors in the Northern Tonle Sap Basin.

The Northern Tonle Sap Basin is one of Cambodia's most important agricultural regions and provides essential resources to support the livelihoods of more than 3 million Cambodians; yet, it is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country to floods and droughts, which are projected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change, thus exacerbating socioecological vulnerabilities.

H.E Dr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment, said that there are untapped potentials for smallholder farmers in the region to bolster climate-resilient, environmentally friendly and high-value agriculture. Therefore, the approval of the PEARL project is a major step towards addressing the urgent adaptation challenges of smallholder farmers in the region. It aligns with priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to protect most vulnerable people from climate change impacts and ensure climate resilient and sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

The PEARL project is designed to support smallholder and other value chain beneficiaries by improving their access to climate information, as well extension services, finance, and technologies to strengthen resilience to climate change through climate-informed, market oriented agricultural livelihoods. The project explicitly targets female-headed farming households and female farmers to address their unique socioeconomic vulnerabilities, in the context of climate change.

“The project is innovative by its design. It uses market-based mechanisms to strengthen the rationale for farmers and other local value-chain actors to adopt climate-resilient, sustainable, and profitable agricultural practices mainly through effective public-social-private partnerships,” said Rebekah Bell, FAO Representative in Cambodia. “The project helps smallholder farmers and other local value chain actors access and leverage market opportunities and instruments that will reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change while improving agricultural production and livelihoods,” she added.

Agriculture is one of the key pillars of the Cambodian economy; climate-resilient, high-value and inclusive agriculture has the potential to increase the resilience of the smallholder farmers and other local value chain actors.

"The emerging markets for key agricultural commodities (cashew, mango, rice, and vegetables) targeted by the project offer excellent opportunities to incentivize vulnerable, smallholder farmers and other local value-chain actors to adopt climate-resilient practices and technologies, and improve their livelihoods, thus increasing their overall adaptive capacity," said H.E Dr. Ngin Chhay, Director General of the General Directorate of Agriculture of the MAFF.

“Providing and promoting alternative sources of income for local communities will create a new page for the conservation and protection of the natural resources, environment and biodiversity in Cambodia,” said H.E. Dr. Khieu Borin, Under-Secretary of State of Environment.

The PEARL project will also generate mitigation co-benefits by improving agroecological management practices and critical catchment forest protection and restoration.

The PEARL project – the second GCF-supported project for Cambodia – includes a USD 36.2 million grant from the GCF, and USD 6.6 million in co-financing from the MAFF, MoE and FAO. The GCF is the world’s largest climate fund, established by 194 governments, mandated to support developing countries in responding to the challenge of climate change.

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